Why I Needed to See The "Barbie" Movie Twice
This is a recap of the “Barbie” movie. There will be spoilers beyond this point. Please proceed with caution (because we don’t want to be the ones who spoil you!)
When I first went to see the “Barbie” movie, I planned to go all out. Our group got our tickets a month before and awaited our “Come on Barbie let’s go watch party!”
When our day finally arrived and we set foot in the IMAX theater, something was off. The lobby was quite warm, and there were crowds of people rushing to get refunds up front. We soldiered on and made our way to the back row of the theater. As it got hotter and hotter in the theater, we realized that the AC must have been broken. But the film trailers had started, so we sat down, accepting our fate.
Half of our crew was late and some of my friends had to leave due to the heat; some friends stuck through but were stressed by what was going on, and I felt frozen in the thick of the heat of it all. It was a strange day for sure, and I was sitting next to two Kens who didn’t understand why I was feeling disconnected and emotionally about to break. It felt like I dissociated through the first half of the film in Barbieland and didn’t come up for air until Barbie finally arrived in the real world. I was able to settle into the film for moments at a time, but felt like the only part I really remembered was Barbie (Margot Robbie) falling to the ground and giving up, because that was exactly how I felt at that moment.
A few weeks later I planned to see the “Barbie” movie for a second time. The catch this time was I would not plan anything big; I would take the reins and go on my own, inviting just me, myself, and I. I wanted to see the movie again without the pressure of making it a spectacle for everyone. So much of my mental energy had gone to make sure that everyone I went with would have a good time, and when that didn’t pan out it affected my entire experience of the film. I felt terrible and as if it was my fault that not everyone had the joyous time we had imagined it would be. That everything that had gone wrong that day had somehow been my fault, even though I couldn’t have fixed the situation. Still, it weighed on me.
On a Thursday night, my journey began down a few streets to a small, vintage theater near me. I went to the box office and got the last ticket for Barbie that was available that night. It felt meant to be. I went into the tiny but full theater and found the last seat in an ideal viewing section with three other women who hadn’t had a chance to see the film. The movie started and I was transported into Barbieland.
This time it was so much clearer for me. Since I didn’t know anyone in the theater I was able to view the film from my own perspective. Laugh when I felt like it, cry because the film itself moved me to, and get fully immersed in the story. I wasn’t worried about anyone else’s experience besides my chance to take in all in this viewing. I realized I missed a lot of key details that I might have missed even if I was fully present the first time viewing. I was dancing in my seat at each song that moved the film along. I could feel the full kenergy of the “I’m Just Ken” extravaganza song and dance montage number.
I left feeling kenough and like I had the best Barbie time. I went into the film this time with no pressure on myself or anyone to have a good time, and that made the experience so much better. I felt empowered and got the full message of the film. If even a doll representing a woman can feel not good enough, it goes to show the pressure that we put on ourselves to live up to who we feel we are supposed to be. I had put so much pressure on myself to have the best day during the opening weekend and plan the perfect Barbie movie experience for everyone invited. When it went in the other direction I felt defeated and like I had failed everyone involved.
By going to Barbie a second time I made it up to myself and found that I didn’t need the big event experience to have a good time.
This movie meant a lot to many people, myself included, and I am still grateful that I got a group of my friends together who all wanted to share in the experience. Whether you see a film with a big group of friends or by yourself both can be equally worthwhile experiences.
It was worth the second chance. Remember you are enough as you are. I might even say you are kenough.
IMAGE VIA WARNER BROS. PICTURES YOUTUBE
This article was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes. The non-union writer and us here at The Mighty support the WGA and SAG-AFTRA strike. Without the labor of the writers and actors currently on strike, the film being discussed here wouldn’t exist.