Barbie

4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Warner;
Comedy;
Box Office $635.68 million;
DVD $19.99, Blu-ray $24.99, UHD BD $29.99;
Rated ‘PG-13’ for suggestive references and brief language.
Stars Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Ariana Greenblatt, Kate McKinnon, Will Ferrell, Michael Cera, Issa Rae, Alexandra Shipp, Emma Mackey, Simu Liu, Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ncuti Gatwa, Scott Evans,Rhea Perlman, Helen Mirren.

The Barbie doll, when introduced by Mattel in 1959, was initially intended as a platform to sell clothes and accessories for girls to dress it up. Other characters followed, and backstories were created as Barbie’s circle of friends and family grew, but the driving force for their popularity remained the ways the girls playing with them could unlock their own imaginations. This is reflected in many of the “Barbie” animated movies that project the characters into various preexisting fairy tales and other adventure stories.

For a live-action film based on Barbie, director Greta Gerwig could have chosen any number of approaches, not the least of which would have been a conventional narrative depicting the lives of the “Barbie” characters as if they were real people working in the fashion industry or something mundane. But Gerwig has made a career of bucking convention, so her vision of Barbie is something much more complex — a movie about the doll’s relationship with the real world.

Interestingly, her screenplay (co-written with her partner, Noah Baumbach) employs a story structure that pays homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey of all things, and not just with a prologue that directly parodies Stanley Kubrick’s sci-fi classic.

As fourth-wall-breaking narrator Helen Mirren explains, the introduction of Barbie shifted the landscape of playing with dolls away from girls practicing for motherhood to fostering ambitions of achieving any goal in life despite background or hardship.

And thus it is that the Barbies seem to exist in their own pocket dimension in which women run society, but all the variants of “Barbie” and “Ken” and other associated characters represent that type of doll in the real world, and some sort of metaphysical psychic link between them can influence what happens in either reality.

Actually, though, any attempt to parse logic from the cause-and-effect of how Gerwig’s Barbie universe works is a futile gesture, as even the characters in the film joke about how warped the story’s reality is. It’s only the genuine emotional connection the characters have with each other that provides structure to the various story arcs and keeps it all from spinning out of control — an impressive achievement of directorial balance on Gerwig’s part.

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In Barbieland, a fantasy realm dominated by plastic and pink, where the backdrops are painted and all the buildings are designed like Barbie playsets, Margot Robbie plays the “stereotypical” Barbie — the Barbie that first comes to mind when one thinks of Barbie. Her life is an idiosyncratic routine of perfect days enjoying visits with the various professional Barbies and hanging out at the beach with Ken (Ryan Gosling). Nights are filled with disco parties.

The various Kens only exist to seek the attention of the Barbies, and seem to have no other purpose. Where they actually live is a question raised but never actually answered, since the Barbies don’t really care.

When Robbie’s Barbie begins to experience anxiety and symptoms of aging imperfectly, she is told she must venture into the real world to confront the girl playing with her in this manner. Gosling’s Ken joins her on this convoluted journey, and while Barbie finds those responsible for her unwanted emotions, Ken discovers a world in which men have purpose and respect.

When Barbie is taken back to Mattel headquarters, because that’s the kind of Meta this movie is, Ken returns to Barbieland with the intention of introducing the patriarchy and improving his and the other Kens’ lot in life.

And thus Barbie and some newfound friends must return home to restore balance to the matriarchy that Barbieland has always known.

In framing Barbie as both an individual living in her own reality and a concept with influence in the real world, Gerwig has crafted a film that tries to meet several conflicting expectations for what a Barbie movie could be.

Gerwig’s Barbie is presented as both iconic and problematic. The behind-the-scenes interviews with Gerwig included with the home video extras show a director who reveres the nostalgia of what Barbie meant to her childhood, while the film’s story seems to lament that the lessons gleaned from Barbie’s worldbuilding didn’t reflect her worldview.

So we get the lavishly designed, fantastic-looking Barbieland sets of life-sized dollhouses that give the film most of its visual flair. We get intricate musical numbers that speak to the stream-of-consciousness fantasy nature of Barbieland’s existence. But we also get a treatise on the relationship between feminism and the patriarchy, using Ken’s journey to satirize a kind of over-the-top interpretation of toxic masculinity. The end result isn’t so much a film about Barbie as it is Metaphor: The Movie.

Regardless of what the filmmakers’ intent was, the exploration of these competing attitudes blended with a storytelling style that borders on expressionism gives the viewer some leeway to imprint whatever message they want to take away from the film, which may account for its massive success despite complains of overt political messaging. Ultimately, the film is as much a comedy poking fun at the Barbie brand’s eccentricities as it is a loving tribute to its legacy.

The aforementioned Barbie home video extras include six bonus featurettes totaling 45 minutes of typical behind-the-scenes material.

The 12-minute “Welcome to Barbie Land” covers the creation of the real-life Barbie Dream Houses, and the seven-and-a-half-minute “Playing Dress-Up” focuses on the costumes. The six-and-a-half-minute “Becoming Barbie” deals with how Robbie and other performers approached playing the legendary doll, while the five-minute “All-Star Barbie Party” marvels at the assembled cast. “Musical Make-Believe” is a nine-minute featurette about the film’s musical sequences. Finally, the five-minute “It’s a Weird World” examines Kate McKinnon’s quirky “Weird Barbie” character.

The extras are offered with both the digital and disc versions of the film. However, the disc versions aren’t offered as multidisc combo packs, with the 4K and regular Blu-ray versions configured separately (though each includes access to a digital copy, while the DVD version does not).

 

‘Barbie’ Due on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD Oct. 17

The top box office film of the year, Barbie, will arrive for purchase on 4K UHD, Blu-ray and DVD on Oct. 17 from Warner Bros. Discovery Home Entertainment.

From Oscar-nominated writer/director Greta Gerwig (Little Women, Lady Bird), Barbie — which has earned more than $1.43 billion at the global box office and is the highest grossing film in Warner Bros.’ history — stars Oscar-nominees Margot Robbie (Bombshell, I, Tonya) and Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Half Nelson) as Barbie and Ken. The film follows the iconic Mattel doll as she experiences an existential crisis.

The film also stars America Ferrera, Kate McKinnon, Issa Rae, Rhea Perlman and Will Ferrell.

Barbie is also available for digital ownership at home.

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The Barbie 4K UHD and Blu-ray contain the following special features:  

  • “Welcome to Barbie Land” featurette
  • “Becoming Barbie” featurette
  • “Playing Dress-Up” featurette
  • “Musical Make-Believe” featurette
  • “All-Star Barbie Party” featurette
  • “It’s A Weird World” featurette

‘Barbie’ Tops Fourth Weekend Box Office, Nearing 2023 No. 1 ‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ in Ticket Sales

Warner Bros. Pictures’ Barbie added another $33.7 million in projected North American ticket sales through Aug. 13, to up its domestic tally past $526 million. The Greta Gerwig-directed summer blockbuster is now just $48 million behind current 2023 theatrical champ, Universal Pictures/Illumination’s The Super Mario Bros. Movie with more than $1.35 billion in revenue.

Returning to the No. 2 spot, Universal Pictures’ biopic Oppenheimer sold another $18 million in tickets to up its North American tally past $264 million and $649 million worldwide.

At No. 3 is Paramount Pictures’ Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem, which sold $15.7 million worth of tickets in its second weekend of release, upping its North American tally near $73 million after 12 days.

Warner’s other much-hyped sequel Meg 2: The Trench continued its underwhelming performance (in relation to the original movie), adding $12.3 million in projected revenue to up its North American tally to $53 million after two weekends.

Meanwhile, Universal’s debut of period horror movie The Last Voyage of the Demeter tanked, generating just $6.5 million in estimated weekend revenue. The $45-million budgeted movie faces a stiff challenge make back its production costs.

While the movie debut wasn’t good, it was enough to top Disney’s Haunted Mansion at $5.6 million; A24’s Talk to Me with $5.1 million; Angel Studios’ Sound of Freedom ($4.8 million, and Paramount’s Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One at $4.7 million.

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‘Barbie’ Director Greta Gerwig Becomes First Solo Woman to Achieve Billion-Dollar Box Office Milestone

Warner Bros. Pictures’ Barbie topped the billion-dollar box office mark over the weekend, just 17 days after its release in North America and most international markets, taking in a record-smashing $1.0315 billion worldwide, with $459.4 million coming in from domestic theaters and $572.1 million overseas.

The film’s director Greta Gerwig (Little Women, Lady Bird) becomes the first woman to surpass that theatrical revenue benchmark as a solo director.

“This is a watershed moment for Barbie, and no one but Greta could have brought this cross-generational icon and her world to life in such a funny, emotional and entertaining story, one that is resonating with all four quadrants of moviegoers and literally turning the entire world pink,” Jeff Goldstein, president of domestic distribution, and Andrew Cripps, resident of international distribution, for Warner Bros. Pictures, said in a joint statement.

Since the movie’s much-hyped debut, it has continued to smash every studio benchmark that preceded it, including all-time daily, weekly and weekend highs, as well being the fastest to reach $400 million domestically and $500 million internationally.

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Barbie stars Oscar nominees Margot Robbie (Babylon I, Tonya) and Ryan Gosling (La La Land, Half Nelson) as Barbie and Ken, alongside America Ferrera (End of Watch, the How to Train Your Dragon films), Kate McKinnon (Bombshell, Yesterday), Issa Rae (The Photograph, HBO’s “Insecure”), Rhea Perlman (I’ll See You in My Dreams, Matilda), Will Ferrell (the Anchorman films, “Talladega Nights”), Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Juno),

The film also stars Michael Cera (Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, Juno), Oscar-winner Helen Mirren (The Queen), Ariana Greenblatt (Avengers: Infinity War, 65), Ana Cruz Kayne (Little Women), Emma Mackey (“Emily,” “Sex Education”), Hari Nef (Assassination Nation, “Transparent”), Alexandra Shipp (the X-Men films), Kingsley Ben-Adir (One Night in Miami, “Peaky Blinders”), Simu Liu (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings), Ncuti Gatwa (“Sex Education”), Scott Evans (“Grace and Frankie”), Jamie Demetriou (Cruella), Connor Swindells (“Sex Education,” “Emma.”), Sharon Rooney (Dumbo, Jerk), Nicola Coughlan (“Bridgerton,” “Derry Girls”), Ritu Arya (“The Umbrella Academy”), and Grammy Award-winning singer/songwriter Dua Lipa.

Gerwig directed Barbie from a screenplay by Gerwig and Oscar nominee Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story, The Squid and the Whale), based on Barbie doll line by Mattel.

Gerwig’s creative team behind the camera included Oscar-nominated director of photography Rodrigo Prieto (The Irishman, Silence, Brokeback Mountain), Oscar-nominated production designer Sarah Greenwood (Beauty and the Beast, Anna Karenina), Oscar-winning costume designer Jacqueline Durran (Little Women, Anna Karenina), editor Nick Houy (Little Women, Lady Bird), visual effects supervisor Glen Pratt (Paddington 2, Beauty and the Beast) and music supervisor George Drakoulias (White Noise, Marriage Story), with a score by Oscar winners Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt (A Star Is Born), who also contributed to numerous songs on the film’s soundtrack.

The soundtrack includes artists such as Lizzo, Dua Lipa, Nicki Minaj & Ice Spice with Aqua, Charli XCX, KAROL G feat. Aldo Ranks, Tame Impala, Dominic Fike, HAIM, The Kid LAROI, Khalid, PinkPantheress, GAYLE, Ava Max, FIFTY FIFTY, among others.

Little Women (2019)

BLU-RAY REVIEW: 

Sony Pictures;
Drama;
Box Office $108.10 million;
$30.99 DVD, $34.99 Blu-ray;
Rated ‘PG’ for thematic elements and brief smoking.
Stars Saoirse Ronan, Emma Watson, Florence Pugh, Eliza Scanlen, Laura Dern, Timothée Chalamet, Meryl Streep, Tracy Letts, Bob Odenkirk, James Norton, Louis Garrel, Chris Cooper.

The latest version of Little Women, masterfully directed and adapted by Greta Gerwig, manages to find the modern sensibilities of Luisa May Alcott’s signature work while retaining all the trappings of its mid-19th century period setting.

Gerwig takes Alcott’s semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novel that was originally published in two volumes in 1868 and 1869, and expertly translates the classic tome into the language of cinema, eschewing the linear narrative of the book and previous adaptations in favor of a flashback structure that better contrasts the childhood and adult lives of its characters.

The core of the story remains centered on the lives of the March sisters — Jo (Saoirse Ronan), Meg (Emma Watson), Amy (Florence Pugh) and Beth (Eliza Scanlen) — growing up in Massachusetts around the time of the Civil War.

The film is filled with wonderful performances, anchored by Ronan’s confidence as Jo, and Pugh’s radiance as the bright-eyed Amy (both were nominated for Oscars). The exquisite period set design and (Oscar winning) costumes make for a film loaded with delightful visual touches that would make it worth viewing for those reasons alone.

But shifting the narrative back and forth between the two timelines allows Gerwig to focus on how the characters’ adult lives are practically responses to specific events of their childhoods, in a way that no doubt keeps the material fresh even for those who are fans of the novel or have seen the countless other adaptations of it.

Gerwig’s other spin on the material involves layering more elements from Alcott’s real life even more so than the original novel did. Historically, Jo is most often described as the most direct analog for Alcott in the story, as she’s the one who ends up writing about her sisters. And, as such, she remains the primary character of the film. But, according to Gerwig in the Blu-ray bonus materials, all the characters have some element of Alcott in them. In the very good nine-and-a-half-minute “Greta Gerwig: Women Making Art” featurette included with the Blu-ray, Gerwig relates that examining in her lifelong love of the novel in preparing to make the film, she realized that Jo was the hero of her childhood and Alcott is the hero of her adulthood.

Indeed, one of the best elements of the film is an ending that leaves much open to interpretation while honoring what Alcott once said was her original intent for some of the characters.

Gerwig’s script, while faithful to the original dialogue, plays up the artistic interests of its characters, emphasizing the struggles of the creative process, and how artists often face the choice of sacrificing the integrity of their visions for commercial realities (such as when a publisher declares to Jo that a novel with a female protagonist better see her married off by the end. Or dead.)

In crafting a screenplay that spoke to her as a 21st century female filmmaker, she suggests that this new film version becomes somewhat autobiographical for her as well.

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Other featurettes on the Blu-ray include the 13-minute “A New Generation of Little Women,” offering interviews with the cast and several of the filmmakers about the origins of the project, plus the nine-minute “Making a Modern Classic,” about looking at the story with a modern lens. The disc also includes a three-and-a-half-minute “Little Women Behind the Scenes” promotional video, and three minutes of hair and make-up test footage.

The best extra, in addition to the reflections from Gerwig, is undoubtedly “Louisa’s Legacy: Little Women and Orchard House” (labeled as “Orchard House, Home of Louisa May Alcott” in the menu), a 10-minute mini-documentary about Alcott’s real life and family. Hosted by Jan Turnquist, executive director of Louisa May Alcott’s Orchard House (the family home where she wrote Little Women), the video discusses what aspects of the book are based on reality, and the impact of the family’s real-life stories on the film.

The video also details the story of Alcott’s house, an old country home from the mid-1600s that has been rescued from destruction at least three times, most recently in 2002 when the walls were shored up and the foundation completely rebuilt to stop the house from sinking into the ground (the pictures of the house being propped up over a giant hole in the ground is rather striking). The real home ended up serving as the basis of the March house in the film.

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Interestingly, while this is the seventh movie adaptation of Little Women, not to mention numerous television and stage productions of it, not as much attention has been heaped on Alcott’s further adventures of the characters. Little Women was the first of what would end up being a March family trilogy, followed by Little Men and Jo’s Boys.

There have been three movie versions of Little Men, two of which were notably made more than 80 years ago, and a handful of television projects. But to date, there hasn’t been a Jo’s Boys movie — only an obscure 1959 BBC miniseries, as well as part of a Japanese anime television adaptation of the trilogy in the 1980s and ’90s.

Oscar-Lauded ‘Little Women’ Coming Home on Digital March 10, Disc April 7

Director Greta Gerwig’s Oscar-nominated film adaptation Little Women is coming out on digital March 10 and Blu-ray and DVD April 7 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment.

The film picked up an Academy Award for Best Costume Design and five nominations, including Best Picture, Best Writing (Adapted Screenplay), Best Music (Original Score), Best Actress in a Leading Role for Saoirse Ronan and Best Actress in a Supporting Role for Florence Pugh. The film is only the third Best Picture nominee in history to have been written, directed and produced entirely by female filmmakers.

Gerwig’s modern adaptation of the Louisa May Alcott masterpiece stars Ronan, Emma Watson, Pugh and Eliza Scanlen as Jo, Meg, Amy and Beth March, with Timothée Chalamet as their neighbor Laurie, Laura Dern as Marmee and Meryl Streep as Aunt March. The film draws on both the classic novel and the writings of Alcott, and unfolds as the author’s alter ego, Jo March, reflects back and forth on her fictional life.

Little Women earned $177.2 million at the global box office.

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The Blu-ray, DVD and digital releases include more than 45 minutes of bonus features, exploring how writer-director Gerwig led this modern adaptation of a literary classic and took inspiration from the real-life Orchard House where Alcott lived and wrote Little Women.

Fandango Survey Finds Women Increasingly Interested in Movies Employing Women Onscreen and Off

In honor of International Women’s Day March 8, Fandango has released surveys of two different samples of more than 1,000 female moviegoers (conducted in March 2018 and again in March 2019) and found increased interest in movies employing women onscreen and off.

Among the findings:

  • In 2018, 85% women identified themselves as the decisionmakers when picking movies for family and friends. In 2019, 87% say they are the decisionmakers.
  • In 2018, 75% of women wanted to see more female ensembles on the big screen. In 2019, 85% would like to see more female ensembles.
  • In 2018, 57% preferred female-driven stories presented by female filmmakers/writers. In 2019, 63% prefer female-driven stories told by female filmmakers/writers.

“It’s clear from our survey that more female moviegoers want to see women-driven stories told by female filmmakers and directors,” Fandango correspondent Alicia Malone said in a statement. “There are so many talented filmmakers deserving opportunities to make their movies. With growing conversation and demand for representation in the film industry, I’m excited to see more diverse offerings in the future.”

In celebration of Malone’s new book, The Female Gaze: Essential Movies Made by WomenFandangoNOW, Fandango’s TVOD service, is highlighting a curated selection of classic movies cited in the book, including Penny Marshall’s Big and A League of Their Own, Greta Gerwig’s Lady Bird, Gurinda Chadha’s Bend It Like Beckham, Chloe Zhao’s The Rider, and Amy Heckerling’s Clueless.

Fandango is also hosting two South by Southwest Film Festival panels with Malone March 8 and March 11 to discuss the evolving images and views of women’s representation on the big screen over the last few years.

Oscar Nominee ‘Lady Bird’ Coming to Disc March 6

Lionsgate will release the Oscar-nominated coming-of-age comedy Lady Bird on Blu-ray and DVD March 6, two days following the Oscar ceremony. The film is available now through digital retailers.

Lady Bird stars Saoirse Ronan as a wildly opinionated and adventurous young woman searching for her true identity as she navigates through adulthood.

The film also stars Laurie Metcalf, Lucas Hedges, Timothée Chalamet, Odeya Rush, Beanie Feldstein and Tracy Letts. Greta Gerwig makes her directorial debut and also wrote the screenplay, which is semi-autobiographical.

The film was nominated for five Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress for Ronan, Best Supporting Actress for Metcalf, and Best Original Screenplay.

Extras on the Blu-ray and DVD include commentary by Gerwig and cinematographer Sam Levy, and a “Realizing Lady Bird” featurette.