Barbie and Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning
via Barbie Movie official Facebook:

[NoHo Arts District, CA] – This month’s movie and TV reviews of Barbie and  Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning.

I wasn’t planning to see Barbie; in fact, if I had to make a top-ten list of films I was going to see this summer, Barbie would have ranked #13. My curiosity did get the better of me (as well as favorable responses from people I respect), so I hit a weekday matinee and found it to be an enjoyable, even thought-provoking romp (how’s that for a paradox?). By now, many of you know the premise: Stereotypical Barbie (a radiant Margot Robbie who doesn’t make any missteps, even though the character sometimes does) is living the ideal life in Barbieland, with its matriarchal government, with its plethora of Barbies with identical temperaments and differing achievements, where the identifying color is pink and every night is a girls’ night. And then there are the Kens (led by Ryan Gosling’s blonde, buff basker in Barbie’s glow, Ken, who are there–but only exist and thrive in relation to the Barbies. But then Stereotypical Barbie begins having thoughts of death, which leads to her heading off to Los Angeles and eventually Mattel Headquarters. Worlds collide, loyalties are tested, and the fate of the world as we know it hangs in the balance…

Well, perhaps I’m overdramatizing things. From beginning to end, Barbie, directed by Greta Gerwig is a delight, and it should probably make it for a good date film (I suspect that accounts for a good part of its half-billion dollar gross, as of this moment). Cultural references abound, so that a second viewing might be in order to see if you noticed everything. There are plenty of knowing, witty lines and situations (co-written by Gerwig and Noam Baumbauch). Robbie and Gosling are perfect as Barbie and Ken, with Gosling particularly funny both as accessory Ken and “enlightened, patriarchal Ken.” Besides the engaging leads, the Barbie also has some secret weapons at its disposal, namely Kate McKinnon as the helpful if eccentric “Weird Barbie,” Rhea Perlman as the mysterious and wise Ruth, Helen Mirren’s narrator, and America Ferrera as a creative, thoughtful, frustrated mom, flawlessly delivering a rousing speech about the contradictions and difficulties inherent in being a woman.

As for the Barbieland setting, with its preponderance of pink, perpetually sunny weather, open design (you don’t find walls in Barbieland), sandless beaches, it is a treat for the eyes, and a fitting contrast with the real world, with its inhabitants only too willing to tear you down, and a “patriarchal system” still very much in place, though its upholders smilingly manage to hide it well. However, the film, if not entirely equivocal, does give the neglected Kens some consideration, with the suggestion that if a society were to be truly ideal, then both sides have to work together. There are also some amusing (and occasionally trenchant)  observations of the corporate world, the American Dream, and family relationships, particularly those of mother and daughter. And so, there is much to please everyone with this Barbie – whether you’re looking for an agreeable divertissement or something with a little more heft, it’s hard to go wrong. You may even tear up a bit. (I’m not going to say if I did.)

Via official download at

You gotta hand it to Tom Cruise. Up until these past weeks, he seemed to be the only hope for movie theaters (aside from plush, reclining seats)  in their bid to reclaim audiences (Barbie and Oppenheimer have since pitched in). Mission Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One, directed by Top Gun: Maverick’s Christopher McQuarrie stars an energetic Cruise in the first part of his farewell to the successful series. Normally, I am averse to these Part One features, since they usually leave the viewer dangling, and more often than not could have been resolved in one film. And if truth be told, there’s a good deal that could be trimmed from this installment, especially in both the endless discussions of Artificial Intelligence (the misuse of which is central) and the allegiance/loyalties of the main characters. Having said that, this Mission…is both exciting and satisfying, as it resolves enough matters and leaves you wanting a bit more. Most of the old team is back, including Simon Pegg, Rebecca Ferguson and Ving Rhames. There is also a welcome addition in Hayley Atwell as a thief who is at first  reluctant to do anything but save her own hide. The action sequences are both exciting and not-too-implausible  (as these things go), with a noteworthy car chase and train showdown working particularly well. This Mission Impossible…is worth seeing, especially in a good theater. It’s up to you if you need the reclining seats…

Mike Peros is an author whose new book, JOSE FERRER: SUCCESS AND SURVIVAL, the first biography of the Oscar and Tony-winning actor, has just been published by the University Press of Mississippi, while his previous book, DAN DURYEA: HEEL WITH A HEART is now available in paperback.