As a fan of both Greta Gerwig and Christopher Nolan, July 21 was a national holiday for me — though I didn’t actually get to see either movie until a few weeks after their release. I put together a “Barbie”-themed outfit like the rest of the world, and I went to see it with my mom when the rest of my family was away in New York. I then went to see “Oppenheimer” with my siblings when my parents were away. After seeing both movies, I can safely say that “Barbie” narrowly won for me.
I want to say “Barbie” is for everyone, but I was surprised by the language in the film. It was not terrible, but I almost expected it to be a kid’s movie. I guess it depends on how important a few vulgar words are to parents, but I would say an older elementary schooler is probably the youngest child who could watch the film while barely grasping the depth of the story. I genuinely believe that this movie has the most complex impact on teenage and elderly women.
I found the storytelling to be fantastic. It had so many layers, from the treatment of women versus men in society to the message “Barbie” gave kids for years, even that aging is beautiful. I could definitely see myself watching this a few times and finding a new meaning every time. I think Greta Gerwig did a great job at showing that this movie was not the “crazy, feminist, radical” movie that some news organizations were making it out to be. In fact, it was actually about gender equality. The Kens don’t lose in the end. They learn that Barbieland can include both the Kens and the Barbies. This really helped with the inclusivity of the film because I also believe it’s something men could relate to. It’s a film for everyone.
I appreciated how the movie balanced comedy with very serious messages. I have found that past comedy movies handle less serious topics. They tend to lean too far into one or the other (seriousness or comedy), which either means the goal of the movie isn’t understood or if it is understood, no one can tell that the movie was light-hearted. Greta Gerwig balanced the two incredibly well, and it was actually funny. I don’t want to spoil too much, but the Sublime joke really got me. Not only was she able to balance two genres, but this was simultaneously a musical. Not really, but there were some excellent musical numbers in there. “Barbie” really had everything going for it, and I really enjoyed it.
“Oppenheimer” was obviously much different than “Barbie”. After all, it’s a historical movie that lasted three hours, so you must be pretty committed to watching it. I have to give Nolan credit, though. I only got bored once! That sounds bad, but it’s so hard for a movie that’s three hours long to keep someone’s attention. I found it interesting historically, but if you’re looking at it from a technical film perspective, it’s beautifully crafted. The acting was great, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Cillian Murphy and Emily Blunt get Oscar nominations in the future.
I found the film’s timeline a bit odd, but that was until I found out it wasn’t just a movie based on Oppenheimer’s story. It was based on an actual biography of Oppenheimer called “American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer,” by Kai Baird and Martin Sherwin. I haven’t read the biography, but that would probably explain why the timeline was off if it followed a book’s timeline. That adds to my point that “Oppenheimer” is more for history and film fans.
The reason I say I give “Barbie” the win is that “Oppenheimer” isn’t going to appeal to as broad an audience as “Barbie”. “Oppenheimer” is for history fans, film junkies and Florence Pugh fans (Spoiler; I’m sorry to the Florence Pugh fans). This doesn’t take away from the fact that it is one of Nolan’s best films and will almost certainly win some awards. But if we’re looking at what most people will enjoy while simultaneously being a technically sound movie and story, “Barbie” will win every time.