Welcome to the dollhouse.
In her decisions made both as a performer and a producer, Margot Robbie is one intriguing figure in the entertainment industry. She always seems to walk the line between popcorn accessibility and provocative button-pushing with her decisions. It’s with this bifurcated focus that made me look at the initial announcement of her making a Barbie movie not with skepticism or discouragement that “Hollywood’s out of ideas,” but with promise and intrigue, with a lens of “What is super-cool actor/producer Margot Robbie gonna do with such an icon?” The more we learned about it — like, for example, bringing aboard Noah Baumbach to co-write alongside director Greta Gerwig — the more intrigued I got. And now that Robbie has publicly spoken about the developing feature for the first time in some time, to the Hollywood Reporter, my excitement level is at a Defcon Pink.
Robbie spoke alongside her LuckyChap producing partners Tom Ackerley and Josey McNamara, with McNamara calling Barbie their “Everest.” Robbie spoke directly to any hesitations about the lack of creative flexibility in this property, and in the casting of herself:
“The IP, the name itself, people immediately have an idea of, ‘Oh, Margot is playing Barbie, I know what that is,’ but our goal is to be like, ‘Whatever you’re thinking, we’re going to give you something totally different — the thing you didn’t know you wanted’… Now, can we truly honor the IP and the fan base and also surprise people? Because if we can do all that and provoke a thoughtful conversation, then we’re really firing on all cylinders.”
As for any teases about that Baumbach/Gerwig script? Unfortunately, Robbie couldn’t say a word about it, except for this: “All we can say is whatever you’re thinking, it’s not that.”
So what could this Barbie movie be? Based on the filmography of Baumbach and Gerwig, and the recent emancipatory themes of LuckyChap-produced films like Birds of Prey, I, Tonya, and Promising Young Woman, could this take a more acrimonious, sardonic take on the splitting up of Barbie and her beloved Ken, giving Barbie a hard-fought battle into independence, feminist ideology, and an independent identity after years of being played by others? Or is the most subversive take of all to simply make “a pleasant, candy-coated comedy about a nice woman based on a nice doll who likes nice, pink things with no apparent satirical subtext?” Time shall tell, and I’ll be hiding out in my Malibu Dream House with bated breath until it does.
The best scene in ‘Wonder Woman’ lasts three minutes, but those 180 seconds set a high bar for what superhero movies can be.
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