Barbie the Movie – Let’s Talk About It! And Did You Find All of These Hidden References and Easter Eggs?
As old Shrek may say… The Barbie movie is like a cinematic onion. Onions have layers. Barbie definitely has layers, and a truckload of them!
The Barbie movie has been a record breaking hit at the cinemas and is a unique concept, unlike anything else. Not for a long time has there been a movie offering so much to think about, opening up conversations, for a long time afterwards.
Greta Gerwig (Co-writer & Director) is truly a genius, and along with Margot Robbie (who starred and co-produced) the two were the driving force in making the movie an entertaining, interesting and moving spectacular. Who would have thought Mattel would be brave enough to let them push the boundaries in such a way.
Now that the Barbie movie is available to stream right from the comfort of your cosy couch, the hype has kicked up again. Some people are diving into it for the first time, while others are gearing up for a delightful re-watch (and perhaps another one after that, because, why not?!).
If you’re going in for another watch, did you ever notice just how many hidden surprises/Easter Eggs are packed into this flick?
Barbie certainly isn’t just a movie about a doll.
The Barbie movie is like a gift that keeps on giving!
We’ve listed a fair few of these hidden gems for you below, but trust us, there are more Easter Eggs in this movie than a bunny’s treasure trove. We won’t spill all the beans in one go; that wouldn’t be any fun!
Have a squiz at our list below and see if you caught these sneaky surprises when you first watched the film. If you didn’t, keep your eagle eyes peeled on your re-watch, and let us know any other gems you discover.
If you haven’t yet seen the movie and don’t want to spoil it, come back here once you’ve seen it and see if you noticed all of these hidden goodies?
Let’s start with other movie references that have been packed into the film…
Image credit: Warner Bros Pictures
‘2001: A Space Odyssey’
One ‘not so hidden’ movie reference is Barbie’s opening scene. In a clever twist to suit the modern age, Barbie’s journey begins with a re-imagined ‘Dawn of Woman’ scene. This recreation pays homage to the ‘Dawn of Man’ scene from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey masterpiece (1968).
Instead of primates discovering tools, we watch as little girls discover the first doll to resemble an adult. They smash up their outdated baby dolls as a symbol of breaking free from traditional roles. It’s an excellent way to show how Barbie’s debut reshaped the playtime landscape, inspiring girls to imagine themselves as more than just mothers and homemakers.
Who knew a doll could be so empowering?
You’ll also notice during this first scene that Barbie is wearing a black-and-white bathing suit with a tightly permed fringe; replicating the first ever Barbie that Mattel released in 1959.
The nods to the Wizard of Oz
The Barbie film isn’t shy about its love for The Wizard of Oz, and it’s just too much fun to miss!
As Stereotypical Barbie ventures to the Real World, she follows the pink road. A playful wink at the yellow brick road from Dorothy’s iconic journey of self-discovery in the Land of Oz.
In the Barbie Land movie theatre, as Barbie zips by in her pink Corvette (which you’ll notice is purposely too small for her, just like the actual toys!), you can see that The Wizard of Oz is playing. Also, if you look inside the doors to the theatre, there’s even a yellow brick road leading to the Emerald City.
Even the field of flowers scene with the tandem bicycle is a nod to Dorothy’s poppy-filled adventure, hinting at the transformative moments that await Barbie in her own self-discovery journey.
Greta Gerwig herself mentioned how The Wizard of Oz influenced Barbie Land’s dazzling aesthetic, capturing that “authentically artificial” vibe from classic Hollywood magic and glamorous backdrops of old musicals.
When Stereotypical Barbie seeks a solution to her malfunctions, she visits Weird Barbie (Kate McKinnon), the oracle of plastic wisdom.
In a very clear play on The Matrix’s iconic red pill-blue pill scene, but with shoes. Weird Barbie lays out the ultimate choice – a pink high heel (stay in Barbie Land and continue to become weirder) or a Birkenstock (search the Real World for the child influencing her malfunctions).
The Truman Show
If you noticed that Barbie Land looks slightly similar to The Truman Show’s TV town, you’d be right! Greta Gerwig met with Peter Weir (the director of The Truman Show), to get insider tips on capturing the magic of the artificial sets.
Another comparison to The Truman Show – just like Truman Burbank, Barbie is eager to break free from the confines of Barbie Land, to find her truth in the Real World.
Barbie’s beautiful wardrobe took inspiration from Cher’s closet in the 1995 movie, Clueless. Barbie just gets the added benefit of magic as she just has to spin to put on her outfit of the day. Once dressed, her outfit for the next day automatically appears.
Saturday Night Fever
During the beginning of the movie, Barbie throws a dance party. It’s the perfect blow-out bash that unfolds to a dazzling dance-fest, which is a tribute to John Travolta and the legendary scene from Saturday Night Fever (1977) – even down to the costuming.
Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus
Eagle-eyed Barbie fans may have spotted a Pegasus statue along the coast during one of the Barbie Land beach scenes. This beautiful winged horse statue is a nod to the 2005 Barbie and the Magic of Pegasus animated film.
Weird Barbie’s equally weird house actually pays homage to the Bates house from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic horror masterpiece, Psycho!
This little tid-bit of information was revealed by Barbie production designer, Sarah Greenwood.
It may seem like an odd pairing, but the shared DNA is undeniable, especially in the front stairs leading to the door of Weird Barbie’s home.
When Barbie and Ken find their cowboy outfits in Venice Beach, it’s like a scene from the 1969 Midnight Cowboy movie.
Greta Gerwig noted that she wanted the dynamic duo to capture that same ‘lost in the big city’ vibe that Jon Voight’s Midnight Cowboy character has when he hits the streets of New York City in the film.
As the Kens take over Barbie Land, they play volleyball on the beach – a scene that was inspired by the famous beach volleyball game in Top Gun.
It doesn’t stop there. The triumphant high five exchange between the Kens is also an imitation of the one we witnessed between Maverick and Goose in Top Gun.
Singin’ in the Rain
When Ken steps into the limelight, belting out ‘I’m just Ken’ and launching into a show-stopping dance extravaganza during the war of the Kens, the set, the costumes, and the sheer audacity have a striking resemblance to the dream ballet from the classic ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ (1952).
According to Gerwig, this is just one example of how Gene Kelly’s filmography influenced the Barbie movie. It’s also another example of how Barbie embraces the past while stepping stylishly into the future.
When Ken (the dashing Ryan Gosling) struts into his bro era, with his ‘I’m just Ken’ montage, it’s practically bursting with cheeky references. And, let’s be real, what could be more classic than adding a dash of John Travolta? You guessed it – the iconic ‘Grease Lightning’ scene, where Travolta and his crew rock those snug black tees while belting out a tune that still gets our engines revving!
In the ‘Ken-dom’, Issa Rae’s President Barbie uses The Godfather movie as her secret weapon to distract Simu Liu’s Ken while another Barbie is stolen away and reprogrammed back to normal.
President Barbie mispronounces the film’s name with a perfectly wrong emphasis to come across as ditsy.
The result? A mesmerising distraction that lures Simu Liu’s Ken into passionately ‘ken-splaining’ the cinematic classic The Godfather, hoping to impress her.
When Barbie discovers that her tether is with Gloria (America Ferrera). Barbie and Gloria start seeing the same memory montage at the same time.
Gloria’s daughter, Sasha (Ariana Greenblatt), pops up and asks if the two are ‘shining’. “Are you guys shining? Are you two shining right now?” she asks. A clear nod to the chilling ability from Stephen King’s spine tingling masterpiece (and Stanley Kubrick’s 1980 film adaptation) The Shining.
It did make us wonder what a horror version of the Barbie movie might be like!
Gotta Kick It Up!
Barbie sneaks in a shout-out to one of America Ferrera’s early gems – the Disney Channel classic ‘Gotta Kick It Up!’
Gloria’s husband (played by her real-life husband Ryan Piers Williams) says “Sí se puede.” The Spanish phrase that translates to “Yes, it can be done”, was repeated in 2002 ‘Gotta Kick It Up’ by Ferrera and her friends as the motto they used to inspire one another.
There are many other movie references that can be found in the Barbie movie, but we thought we’d leave some for you to find on your re-watch!
Did You Notice These Other Fun Easter Eggs Found in the Barbie movie?…
It appears that Ken takes inspiration from none other than 80’s-era Sylvester Stallone! It seems the Rocky star is the representation of ‘manly men’ in the Ken-dom.
When Ken visits the Real World, he discovers a thing or two about patriarchal power. While Ken is exploring LA on his own, Stallone’s presence is first felt in a gym where those legendary posters of Stallone’s Rocky alter-ego line the gym walls.
Ken then sees multiple screens which are all showing a montage of masculinity throughout the years, where Stallone is seen in fur coats. So, who better for Ken to replicate his macho might on than Stallone himself?
Suave Ken steps back into Barbie Land sporting that Stallone swagger – fur coat and all. Ken is also seen wearing boxing gloves at one point when he arrives back to Barbie Land. And, his recent obsession with horses as a sign of masculinity – well, the real Stallone also loves horses and it could be connected this Rocky’s nickname, ‘The Italian Stallion’!
Barbie’s Car Odometer
If you look closely in Barbie’s car, you might notice that the odometer reads “030959.” The first Barbie toy was launched on March 9, 1959.
Ken’s name in the Real World is ‘and Ken’
In the Real World, Barbie and Ken get arrested. Did you notice Ken’s mugshot board reads ‘and Ken’?
Ken may very well believe that’s his real name considering he’s always referenced in the duo as “Barbie and Ken”.
Barbie Sets and Scenes
Did you know that CGI wasn’t used for the travel scenes between Barbie Land and the Real World? They built each form of transport and the actors sat in them with the scenery around them all created as well, old school style.
The name of the airport in Barbie Land is BAX, inspired by LA’s airport, LAX.
The Creation of Adam
Apparently, this is actually Margot Robbie’s favourite Easter egg in the Barbie Movie. In a small kitchen within the Mattel HQ, Barbie meets her creator, Ruth Handler.
Ruth hands Barbie a cup of tea and their hands touch like Michelangelo’s ‘The Creation of Adam’ – imitating the moment when God gives life to the first man.
In the Real World, Barbie goes to a high school and comes across teenager Sasha and her friends. Is it just a strange coincidence that Sasha shares a name with one of Barbie’s long-time rivals of the original Bratz dolls? Sasha’s group of friends also seem to resemble the other original Bratz dolls – Cloe, Jade, and Yasmin.
Sasha’s mum, Gloria, also calls Sasha ‘Bunny boo’ – which was the Sasha Bratz Doll’s nickname too!
Ruth Handler’s Tax Scandal
The movie doesn’t linger too long on the life story of Ruth Handler, the mastermind behind the Barbie doll, but it does give a sly wink to a certain financial hiccup of Ruth’s.
After multiple allegations of fraud, Ruth resigned as Mattel’s President in 1974. In 1978, she was charged with fraud and false reporting.
In the Barbie movie, Ruth (played by Rhea Perlman) playfully lets slip the financial fiasco that had everyone raising their eyebrows. It’s a light-hearted jab at real-life events, to show that no one is perfect (as per the movie’s themes).
The Older Woman Barbie Meets in the Real World
In the Real World, there’s a touching scene when Barbie meets an older woman and tells her she looks beautiful.
This older woman is actually costume designer and 2 x Oscar winner Ann Roth. In 1996 she won an Oscar for Best Costume Design for The English Patient and in 2020, won Best Costume Design again for Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.
Tanner, the Pooping Pup
At Weird Barbie’s house we meet Tanner the pooping pup, who drops poops as he walks across the room.
Tanner was an actual real toy made by Mattel. The toy Tanner also had the ability to eat and drop poops. He even came with his own pooper scooper!
Sadly, Tanner was recalled in 2007.
Nearly Every Doll in the Film was Sold by Mattel
The one exception is Weird Barbie – but, come on, I think we can admit that all of us probably owned at least one ‘Weird Barbie’ growing up?
Every other doll seen in the movie was made for sale at one point or another.
Pregnant Midge – She was released and quickly discontinued in the 70’s for being ‘too weird’ and for ‘promoting teen pregnancy.’
Allan – Ken’s buddy Allen (brilliantly played by Michael Cera), who’s main selling point was that all of Kens clothes and accessories could fit him. Allan was released and discontinued in the 60’s also. In the Barbie movie, Allan wears the same outfit as the original Allan doll wore when he was created.
Growing Up Skipper – Poor Growing Up Skipper was created in 1975, released as a version of Barbie’s younger sister. Skipper had a special skill – she could grow a larger bust when you rotated her left arm! It was meant to be an interpretation of growing up and puberty, that didn’t go down too well! Needless to say, Skipper didn’t last long!
Video Girl Barbie – She donned a small video camera in her necklace and a video screen on her back, as a way to ‘film Barbie’s point of view.’ However, she was pulled off the shelves after a warning from the FBI.
Teen Talk Barbie – in 1992 Teen Talk Barbie hit the shelves, and she said a controversial phrase “math class is tough.” Mattel admitted this phrase shouldn’t have been included after women’s groups criticised the doll.
Earring Magic Ken – Mattel tried to make Ken ‘cool’ again in the 90’s and dressed him in a mesh shirt, faux leather vest, an earring, and a strange necklace that was probably his downfall! We’re not going to go into the necklace, but Earring Magic Ken was soon unofficially named ‘Gay Ken’.
Sadly, this didn’t sit well with homophobic customers of Barbie’s, and Earring Magic Ken was pulled from the shelves after only being ‘alive’ for six months!
Sugar Daddy Ken – ummm….that was seriously his real name! Seriously. But apparently this was his name because he came with a West Highland Terrier named Sugar. So, he’s really just ‘Sugar’s daddy.’
Sugar Daddy Ken was released in 2009 to mark Barbie’s 50th anniversary. Surprisingly, he didn’t hang around for long. But we just can’t figure out why?!
There are many other Barbie Easter Egg’s to uncover. Which ones have you noticed?
Oh, and to finish off, we’ve decided to add Gloria’s (America Ferrera) monologue from the movie:
We’re sure it’s an inspiration to all women to know that we truly are ‘Kenough!’
“It is literally impossible to be a woman. You are so beautiful, and so smart, and it kills me that you don’t think you’re good enough. Like, we have to always be extraordinary, but somehow we’re always doing it wrong.
You have to be thin, but not too thin. And you can never say you want to be thin. You have to say you want to be healthy, but also you have to be thin. You have to have money, but you can’t ask for money because that’s crass. You have to be a boss, but you can’t be mean. You have to lead, but you can’t squash other people’s ideas. You’re supposed to love being a mother, but don’t talk about your kids all the damn time. You have to be a career woman, but also always be looking out for other people. You have to answer for men’s bad behavior, which is insane, but if you point that out, you’re accused of complaining.
You’re supposed to stay pretty for men, but not so pretty that you tempt them too much or that you threaten other women because you’re supposed to be a part of the sisterhood. But always stand out and always be grateful. But never forget that the system is rigged. So find a way to acknowledge that but also always be grateful. You have to never get old, never be rude, never show off, never be selfish, never fall down, never fail, never show fear, never get out of line. It’s too hard! It’s too contradictory and nobody gives you a medal or says thank you! And it turns out in fact that not only are you doing everything wrong, but also everything is your fault.
I’m just so tired of watching myself and every single other woman tie herself into knots so that people will like us. And if all of that is also true for a doll just representing women, then I don’t even know.”
– America Ferrera as Gloria in ‘Barbie’
Barbie is Warner Bros’ Highest-grossing Movie of All Time
It certainly seems like ‘life in plastic, is fantastic’ in a Barbie world! The Barbie movie has broken a major global box office record by becoming Warner Bros’ highest-grossing film of all time globally, and the highest-grossing movie of 2023. After only two weeks in theatres, Barbie beat the $1 billion USD milestone at the worldwide box office.
In the weeks since, Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie gross has continued to rise and has now made over $1.342 billion USD – beating the previous record of 2011’s Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2.
Barbie is currently sitting as the 11th highest-grossing movie of all time, surpassing even the first Avengers movie (and she continues to rise!).
Greta Gerwig’s pink unicorn has made her the first woman to independently Direct a billion dollar movie. Barbie has also made producer and star, Margot Robbie, the highest paid female-actor of 2022. Margot made a cool $12.5 million upfront for the Barbie. But it also seems that she stands to make an additional approx. $50 million in salary and box office bonuses! Wowzers.
Apparently, Margot still has a ways to go to be paid the highest Hollywood payday of all-time. Old mate, Tom Cruise currently holds that wee title. He reportedly received over $100 million following the success of 2022’s ‘Top Gun: Maverick,” which made around $1.5 billion at the box office.
Well done to all involved in the brilliantly fantastic film that is Barbie.
Review by Brooke Hendry
At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.
As per all our Play & Go reviews, this is not a sponsored post and our review is done completely independently.
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