The 'Barbie' movie is rated PG-13.
Warner Bros./ YouTube

Is The Barbie Movie Appropriate For Kids?

Unlike the doll, the movie might not be for young children.

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After months, nay, years of anticipation, it’s finally happening: all us Barbie Girls (a gender-neutral term as far as we’re concerned) will soon be in a theater, decked in our finest pink garments, watching Barbie. But while the doll is beloved among all ages, is the Barbie movie appropriate for kids? Here’s what parents need to know before you go party with Barbie.

Note: Mild spoilers for Barbie are ahead.

What is the new 2023 Barbie movie rated?

The film’s rating — PG-13 — was the subject of a lot of speculation: it’s a children’s brand, but it’s obviously a movie geared more toward adult fans (and former fans) of the iconic fashion doll than for the product’s core demographic.

The PG-13 rating is due to “suggestive references and brief language.” The first instance takes place on the pink sand beach in Barbie Land, where Ryan Gosling’s Ken and Simu Liu’s Ken threaten to “beach” each other off (comedy gold, yes, but maybe not something you want your kid repeating). Later on, another Barbie wonders “what kind of nude blob” Ken is packing under his shorts. And once Barbie and Ken enter the real world, the gritty depiction of reality includes Barbie being cat-called by a group of construction workers. Barbie responds by saying she and Ken they have no vagina and no penis, respectively.

As for language, IMDb users cite the use of “hell” and “damn” as their only real bad word flags. Unless you count Issa Rae’s iconic “It’s a Dreamhouse, motherf*cker” moment, which is bleeped out (the age rating totally counts it). So, between a little innuendo and some uncomfy depictions of the real world, maybe the PG-13 rating doesn’t seem so weird.

There are some mature themes that might need explaining.

Aside from all the innuendos, there are also some pretty big, existential themes at play in Barbie. It wrestles with feminism and the patriarchy, going to war, masculinity and femininity, what women are capable of, and even sexual harassment and objectification (thanks again, construction workers). Some of it might go right over your child’s head, but just know you may have to field some tough questions from younger viewers.

Director Greta Gerwig went deep for Barbie.

The doll may be for little girls, but the process behind the Barbie movie was more in keeping with a graduate-level philosophy course. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Gerwig recalls regaling Mattel executives with her vision: how Barbie was influenced by the works of spiritualist painters and ancient religious myths among many, many other high-brow references. “I think at that point, when I was in hour three of talking they all realized no one has thought more about this,” she told the magazine. “They saw I wake up every morning and panic about proportions and color saturation. And they were like, ‘We don’t have to panic. She’s already panicked about this.’ And I think that gave them a sense of comfort.”

It’s the perfect marriage of highbrow and lowbrow.Han Myung-Gu/WireImage/Getty Images

But don’t worry: it’s not all early-20th-century art history. The film is an ode to a child’s fantasy. “I never wanted my adult taste to override what I loved as a kid,” Gerwig told Rolling Stone. “When I was eight years old, I loved the biggest, brightest, loudest, sparkliest thing that I could find. And I need to honor that ... so we were picking these bright, saturated colors. The result was that the set was like a dopamine generator. People would walk in and smile.”

Margot Robbie didn’t think Barbie would “see the light of day.”

Yes, that is the same outfit worn by Day and Night Barbie.JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images

Earlier this year, Robbie, who is a co-executive producer on the film, told BAFTA that she loved the script from the jump... but was nevertheless skeptical of bringing it to the big screen. “The first time I read the Barbie script, my reaction was, ‘Ah! This is so good. What a shame it will never see the light of day. Because they are never going to let us make this movie.’ But they did!”

Expect to see more Mattel movies down the pipe.

The Guardian reports that Mattel, the company that makes Barbie dolls, is attempting to reinvent no fewer than 45 of their existing properties as movies, shows, and perhaps even plays, banking on the name recognition and nostalgia to propel it to a box office hit. “What Marvel did with its superheroes, Mattel is planning to do with its toys,” the outlet reports. “And the point is that that the toys’ customer base already know what to expect.”

Polly may be next...DON EMMERT/AFP/Getty Images

To be fair, despite Barbie’s brand recognition, I don’t think most fans expected Gerwig’s take on Barbie, so who knows: The Polly Pocket movie could prove to be a charming indie romp! Or perhaps we’ll get a gritty but satirical horror movie based on Uno... Either way, we’ll stay tuned.

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