The Toughest ‘Barbie’ Movie Critics Are Barbie Collectors

Moreno liked the “nuggets” that Gerwig threw in for collectors, like a cameo from the Skipper that grew breasts, and onscreen text noting the actual names of ensembles from Barbie’s closet. “My first thought was, ‘That’s cool,’” he said. “But then also like, ‘That’s going to rise in price now.’” Several collectors The Times spoke with also appreciated the reference to the canceled collectible widely known as “Sugar Daddy Ken” (whose name was actually a reference to his dog being called Sugar).

But there were also some nitpicks. Jian Yang, a 43-year-old marketer in Singapore with 12,000 dolls, said the costuming “looked handmade; it looked not Mattel.” Both Maar, who worked at Mattel more than 20 years ago, and Keith, 55, refuted the way Barbie’s creator, Ruth Handler (Rhea Perlman), is portrayed as a sweet, spiritual guide for Robbie’s Barbie. “Ruth has never been the grandmotherly type,” Maar said of Handler, who died in 2002. “She was a ball basher.”

These Barbie lovers also would have preferred less of the Real World. After all, when you’re drawn to Barbie because of the fantasy, the real world just seems disappointing.

“I felt very spoiled by the Barbie Land,” Saldaña said, and Lindsey Walker, 27, who works on civil rights in Washington, D.C., had a similar feeling: “Every time they went to the Real World, I was like, OK, when are they going to get back to Barbie Land? Because it was just so much more interesting and so much more colorful.”

There were also more significant gripes. Walker praised the diversity of the cast but wished Issa Rae and Ncuti Gatwa, who are among the cast’s Black performers, had gotten more screen time. He also took issue with how the feminist themes were examined: “Overall, I’m like, a white woman wrote this, and then also there might also be some people that haven’t really explored feminism and can get something out of this, so I’m just taking it for what it is.”

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