Thursday, July 18, 2024
HomeCultureBarbie and Asteroid City

Barbie and Asteroid City

Director: Greta Gerwig
Starring: Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, Will Ferrell
Genre: Plastic fantastic

Asteroid City
Director: Wes Anderson
Starring: Lots of Hollywood A-listers
Genre: Meteor howler

As an adult male with teenage boys, the idea of seeing Barbie seemed a bit odd. We knew nothing about the tall skinny blonde doll or any of the other dolls, the houses, the vehicles or any of the other plastic Mattel toys.

For me, seeing Barbie was more about being a movie critic and being on trend, though admittedly I am yet to see Oppenheimer. So it was quite a pleasant surprise to see that I generally really enjoyed the film.

Full credit goes to Mattel for the greatest marketing exercise in history, maybe apart from Red Bull’s ubiquitous sporting presence. And special note to the writers for successfully tiptoeing along all sorts of lines, from cleverly packaged Mattel self-criticism, to genital references, sexism and macho male music.

The film also operates at many different generational levels, from Gen-X movie references like 2001: A Space Odyssey and Monty Python films, actors well-known to 20-somethings, and music which I am told is popular with teenagers.

And it’s funny. Okay, there aren’t many laugh-out-loud moments but the self-deprecation, over-the-top performances by pretty much everyone and clever meshing of human domestic activities with doll houses and their appliances created plenty of smirks.

From a purely aesthetic perspective, the comparison with Wes Anderson’s Asteroid City is real – from the colour palettes to the set designs. But Asteroid City’s story lines don’t gel and they wander in and out. It is also difficult to follow and as a movie-goer you can’t help but be distracted as you try to spot the Hollywood superstars that make cameo appearances, including, ironically, Margot Robbie.

Barbie is full of amusing piss-takes and subtle social commentary. Asteroid City is generally boring and a failed attempt at a modern take on 1950s human and alien perceptions. Only Wes Anderson purists will like Asteroid City. Even impurists will like Barbie!

Barbie: Four perfect faces.
Asteroid City: Two imperfect storylines.


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