Barbie

NZ release: 20 July 2023

Violence and coarse language Rated on: 20 July 2023

Barbie_film posters

What’s it about?

Barbie and Ken are having the time of their lives in the colorful and seemingly perfect world of Barbieland. However, when they get a chance to go to the real world, they soon discover the joys and perils of living among humans.

The facts

  • Director Greta Gerwig (Lady Bird)
  • Co-written by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach
  • English language
  • Runtime 114 minutes
  • Characters based on the toy merchandise created by Mattel

Why did it get this rating?

This film was rated by the Film and Video Labelling Body.

For a film based on toys made for children, and a global marketing release plan that is unmissable, we understand parents and caregivers wanting to know if it is age-appropriate for tamariki. We hope this guide will help you decide whether Barbie is appropriate viewing for your whānau.

Violence

The film’s opening sequence shows little girls playing with baby dolls. The voice-over narrator explains the historical impact of the arrival of the Barbie doll on little girls’ play: we see a giant Barbie (played by Margot Robbie) and then we see the little girls inspired to smash up their own baby dolls. The scene is comedic and is unlikely to inspire children to destroy their toys.

The film features several comedic fight scenes, which are mostly over-the-top violence and funny in the context of the story. In Barbieland we can tell it is an imaginary world without real food and drink, where people don’t die and where you can jump off the roof of your dream house to get to the car. During a conflict between Kens they fire imaginary weapons at each other and act as though they are ‘shot’. In one of the stronger moments Alan (Michael Cera) attempts to fight multiple Kens and tries to strangle one with a spade against his neck.

There is a moment where dangerous behaviour is shown in a flashback of little girl cutting a Barbie’s hair off and burning the ends of her doll’s hair with a lighter.

Coarse language

There is low level language which is likely to be missed or not understood by younger viewers. In the real world men make comments to and about Barbie which she is confused by. The comments have strong innuendo which only more mature viewers would recognise and understand.

There is one cleverly bleeped ‘m*therf**ker’ which in context is comedic, not harmful and also very brief. Younger viewers would miss the reference.

Adult themes

The story deals with what it means to be human, and in particular what it means to be a woman in a modern world. There is a strong feminist message and there are a lot of references to empowering woman, with Barbie as a role model for being anything you want to be. When she arrives in the real world with Ken things are more complicated. There are a lot of references to the patriarchy, to the lack of women in leadership roles, and the inflated power of men is demonstrated in a comedic way through Ken’s own self-awakening. These important messages are an opportunity for conversations with your whānau and that is why parental guidance is recommended.

Further information

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