The first comparison this brings to mind is the “Transformers” movies of the 2000s, which were also PG-13 despite being based on toys and cartoons intended for kids. Michael Bay took that PG-13 rating further than Greta Gerwig likely will, with far more explicit sex jokes and over-the-top violence. The “Transformers” features got increasingly lewd and child-unfriendly throughout the series, culminating in that insane scene in “Age of Extinction” where 20-year-old Shane pulls out a copy of Texas’ Romeo & Juliet statute to justify why it’s okay for him to date his 17-year-old girlfriend Tessa. It’s an unnecessary sequence — couldn’t they have just aged Tessa up a year and cut the whole conversation? — and it made it clear that the writers involved had zero interest in providing any good role models for any kid Transformer fans in the audience.
Gerwig’s “Barbie,” meanwhile, does still seem interested in providing healthy messages to kids, even if some of their parents might not be comfortable bringing them to the theater just yet. “I think it’s a great opportunity to put some positivity out in the world,” Margot Robbie told Variety about the film. “A chance to be aspirational for younger kids.”
Gerwig herself talked about her respect for the famous toy’s aspirational messages, which she hopes to pay tribute to (to some degree at least) in the movie: “The kind of amazing thing is that Barbie went to the moon before women had the ability to get credit cards,” she told The Guardian. “That’s crazy. She was always a kind of step ahead.” Although “Barbie” isn’t specifically for kids, it’ll likely be far more kid-friendly (and far kinder in general) than the many gritty toy-based movies we’ve gotten over the years.
“Barbie” (and “Oppenheimer”) premiere in theaters on July 21, 2023.