cinemacon 2023

This Barbie Gets Arrested and Goes to Jail in New CinemaCon Footage

Greta Gerwig and the Barbie cast introduced new, way existential footage from the upcoming film. Photo: Warner Bros.

From the stage during the Warner Bros. presentation of upcoming films at CinemaCon on Tuesday, Ryan Gosling admitted he’d had some reservations about playing a plasticized embodiment of male perfection in writer-director Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. “Up until that point, I only knew Ken from afar,” said Gosling, who was attired in a bright-pink bomber jacket. “I didn’t know Ken from within. If I’m being really honest, I doubted my Kenergy. I didn’t see it. Margot and Greta conjured this out of me. I was living my life and then, one day, I was bleaching my hair. Shaving my legs. And wearing bespoke neon outfits and Rollerblading down Venice Beach. It came on like a fever. Like a scarlet fever. Like a pink fever.”

The normally reserved actor admitted his newfound Kenergy had resulted in a kind of cognitive dissonance: “Why am I waking up with fake tanner? Why am I wearing jackets without shirts? To be conjured in such a way was really special.”

Gosling was joined at Caesars Palace by lead actress and producer Margot Robbie, director Greta Gerwig, and co-star America Ferrera, who together introduced new footage from the film (due out July 21). The quartet’s details about making the movie killed with the CinemaCon crowd. “It was like a dopamine hit,” Robbie said. “I ruined all of Ryan’s takes because I was crying with laughter.”

Gerwig revealed how she had come onboard the project at Robbie’s behest as a producer and bickered with her writing and life partner, Noah Baumbach, over who would take on the helming duties. “When I was writing it with Noah, we were making each other laugh all the time, and it got to a point where we were making each other cry,” she said. “It got to a point where he wanted to direct, and I said, ‘Step aside!’” Gerwig recalled bursting into tears when she set foot on set for the first time. “They had made life-size Barbie houses with a slide going down into a pool,” she said. “The Barbie cars they made — it was so touching. The people who made the action vehicles had just made the Batmobile. We’re going to top the Batmobile! There was such genuine emotion put into every object.”

The filmmaker went on to explain that the Barbie production was heavily inspired by “Technicolor musicals,” such as The Wizard of Oz, and, just as crucially, a certain ’70s cultural sensation: “Disco music,” Gerwig said. “Disco’s assumption is that when people get together they want to dance. That’s incredibly optimistic! I felt like Barbie is the same way.”

A sizzle reel the studio put together for CinemaCon revealed new facets of the film. Robbie as Barbie lives in a plastic-toy world of unending joy, unquestioned happiness, and chaste romance. “Today is the best day ever! And before that, yesterday was!” Barbie exclaims. “And tomorrow will be the best day ever too!” The needle comes scratching off the proverbial record when she suddenly asks her friends, “Do you guys ever think about dying?”

When the arches of Barbie’s feet suddenly — inexplicably, terrifyingly — fall from high-heels high to flat, she begins a line of existential questioning that leads her to Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon). Their conversation ultimately starts a hero’s journey from the toy realm into the real world. There, Robbie’s Barbie is repeatedly arrested and put behind bars. Ken, for his part, concocts something called “Ken’s Mojo Dojo Casa House” and tries to convince an emergency-room doctor to let him perform an appendectomy. When she rebuffs him, Ken exclaims, “But I’m a man!” (“I’ll need a clicky pen and a white lab coat,” he says as she walks away.)

The CinemaCon footage was laugh-out-loud, haha funny but also weird and heartfelt. Gerwig explained that the ensemble cast’s earnestness had enabled Barbie’s unique brand of comedy. “These actors can do anything,” she said. “They took it so seriously. The humor came from taking everything to heart and then playing it like it’s a drama. It was like watching Marlon Brando play Ken.”

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This Barbie Gets Arrested and Goes to Jail in New Footage