IT is set to be one of the biggest blockbusters in recent years.
Millions of parents will flock to the cinema with their children next summer to see Barbie living the high life on the big screen.
But while she’s still plastic, not everything is fantastic for the world’s most popular doll in the big-budget Barbie film, which has been given a politically charged script.
Instead of a fluffy, upbeat love story, the movie will shine a light on social issues — tackling feminism, misogyny and other gender issues.
It may leave many questioning whether their child’s toy has been transformed into a woke warrior.
Mermaid Barbie, President Barbie and other females rule the land while the male Ken dolls are little more than pretty accessories.
But Margot’s character crosses over into the real world with Ken, where she is gobsmacked to discover misogyny, a lack of equal pay and even — shock horror — a male President.
When they return, Ken tells the other male dolls what he has seen and urges them to fight back and take charge.
The two genders end up fighting for their place in Barbieland — which is far from the straightforward kid-friendly storyline which many may have expected from the movie.
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A film insider said: “Barbie is a fun comedy and the producers have made every effort for it to have a PG rating so it is suitable for kids.
“It won’t at all be what people are expecting because Barbie has typically been seen as a bimbo.
“They want to change that perception with this film to show little girls and boys how important equality is.
“People are used to seeing men in charge and women fighting for equal rights, whereas in this case it will be the other way around.
“But it remains to be seen whether that will make it an enjoyable watch.”
The fight for equality is reflected in Margot’s pay packet for the movie — £10.5million, making her the highest-paid Hollywood actress in 2022.
The fresh take on the toy’s story is down to writer and director Greta Gerwig who has masterminded the project.
She has a history of directing strong female characters, having earned Best Picture Oscar nominations for 2017’s coming-of-age drama Lady Bird starring Saoirse Ronan and 2019’s retelling of Little Women.
Margot said last month: “I think people had a preconceived idea about what the movie would be. Then, when it was announced Greta was directing, all these ideas went out the window.
‘Aspirational for younger kids’
“Bringing Barbie to life was something I just couldn’t say no to.
“It’s a fun movie – a comedy – but it’s also going to have aspects people don’t expect.
“I don’t think Barbie can be accused of being a dumb blonde as she has been a surgeon, a vet and a pilot so, if anything, she is a pioneer.”
Previously, Margot also said that she hoped the film would be “aspirational for younger kids.”
And Ryan said recently: “I was surprised how some people were clutching their pearls about my Ken, as though they ever thought about Ken for a second before this. They never played with Ken.”
Hinting that the film will show the male doll as inferior, he added: “Nobody plays with Ken. He’s an accessory and not even one of the cool ones.”
The Sun can also reveal Margot is set to show off her vocal talents in the film.
The cast shot four musical numbers while filming in the UK, which the Australian actress will be part of.
That may have been a challenge after she covered Marilyn Monroe number Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend in 2020’s Harley Quinn: Birds Of Prey.
Director James Gunn said last year: “I thought she could do anything. And then one day she had to sing and I said, ‘OK, well you can do everything but one thing.’”
Aqua’s hit Barbie Girl won’t be in the film, though.
Toy company Mattel filed a lawsuit against the group’s record company MCA when the song was released in 1997, claiming trademark infringement, but the legal move failed.
A star-studded cast has been assembled, with an array of celebrity cameos.
Singer Dua Lipa, US comedian Issa Rae and transgender model Hari Nef will play other Barbies, while the new Doctor Who star Ncuti Gatwa and Canadian actor Simu Liu will play other Ken dolls.
New ‘Barbiecore’ fashion trend
Simu said he signed on to the role after his agent said it was the best script he had ever read.
He explained: “He was like, ‘If I could stake my career on any one script, it’s the Barbie script. I really think you should do it.’”
Anchorman star Will Ferrell will play the CEO of toy manufacturer Mattel, while other cast members include Sex Education’s Emma Mackey, Bridgerton’s Nicola Coughlan, The Crown’s Emerald Fennell and comedian Kate McKinnon.
An all-star soundtrack is also being pulled together with a series of new tracks from major recording artists.
Some of the film was shot in Leavesden Studios in Hertfordshire. One of the other locations was Venice Beach in California, where Margot and Ryan were photographed rollerskating in vibrant outfits along the seafront earlier this year.
The idea of a Barbie movie was first floated in 2014, with comedian Amy Schumer cast in the lead role two years later.
She backed out blaming scheduling conflicts, but recently admitted she decided not to be involved because she didn’t like the storyline.
Amy said: “They definitely didn’t want to do it the way I wanted to.”
Anne Hathaway was later in talks to take the part before Margot, who first found fame in Aussie soap Neighbours, signed on in 2019.
There have been almost 80 animated Barbie movies but this version is already proving to be the most influential.
Photos from the set of the stars in hot pink outfits have inspired a new fashion trend dubbed Barbiecore sported by the likes of Kim Kardashian, Gigi Hadid and Zendaya.
If this film does achieve its goal, it will be even more influential for youngsters than just their fashion.
KEEP BARBIE VACUOUS
Dulcie Pearce, film critic
WHEN I was playing with Barbie dolls as a young girl, I certainly wasn’t making them have debates about misogyny or gender issues.
Since her birth over 60 years ago, Barbie has been the poster girl for frivolous fun – and that’s how she must stay.
I can imgine the brainstorming for this much-anticipated movie must have produced more plans of attack than a world war – after all, the main protagonist is the feminist’s enemy.
With decades of criticism for her unachievable body type and materialistic ways, it’s not an easy task to make Barbie 2022 friendly.
However, I hope this top team behind the film don’t abandon the truly fun superstar who several generations have simply adored for who she is; a vacuous and vivacious doll.
Filmmakers need to be careful making our much-loved characters too woke and worthy – see the recent dreary Lightyear for details.
Sometimes it’s best to accept something for what it is: plastic and fantastic.
Barbie life story
1959: Barbie made her debut at the New York Toy Fair in a black and white swimsuit and signature blonde ponytail.
1967: The first celebrity Barbie doll was based on Sixties model Twiggy and was complete with her iconic eyelashes.
1980: Mattel released the first Black and Hispanic Barbies after dolls of colour were previously just friends.
1984: She had the first of many fashion partnerships with Oscar de la Renta creating a collection of designer looks.
1985: Barbie smashed the glass ceiling with the introduction of Day-To-Night dolls who ran the boardroom in a pink power suit before partying with their friends.
2009: Barbie took to the catwalk for her first New York Fashion Week show to commemorate her 50th anniversary.
2014: Barbie became an influencer and got her own Instagram account @barbiestyle.
2015: The doll went digital and launched a video blog on YouTube to discuss a range of topics including depression, bullying and the benefits of meditation on mental health.
2016: Barbie introduced three new body types including curvy, petite and tall, with the launch featuring on the cover of Time magazine.
2023: Barbie’s first major cinematic release will hit screens.