“C’mon, c’mon let’s skate some more!” So goes the catchy jingle in a 1996 TV commercial for Inline Skating Barbie. How little did the target demo realize then that about 25 years later, we would all get to see Barbie do it for real. Yet here we are in the future where at least Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken are having some fun!
That joyous fact is revealed by the latest batch of set photos from the set of Greta Gerwig’s delightfully surreal-looking Barbie movie. The film, which marks the first time the iconic Mattel toy has become a live-action film character, continues to set the social media sphere on fire each week. It began earlier this month when Warner Bros. Pictures released the first official images of Robbie as Barbie in an appropriately pink convertible, and then later Gosling as a literal Ken doll made flesh (and with abs).
But it’s been the set photos leaking out from location shooting in which passersby are able to capture images of Robbie and Gosling in iconic Barbie doll fashion that have really been winning over (or confounding) skeptics. And Tuesday morning’s deluge of images took that charm to the next level with Robbie and Gosling wearing matching hot pink spandex and lycra while skating along a boardwalk.
The above images should be a blast out of the past for a certain segment of older millennials who recall the “Hot Skatin Barbie” and “Inline Skating Barbie” dolls, circa 1995 and ’96, respectively. Both of those toys seem to influence the cinematic Barbie and Ken’s wardrobe in the latest set photos, right down to the flashy neon yellow skates. (See below for evidence.)
The sight of the two actors dressed in such garishly over-the-top stylings is still a bit bizarre when one stops to realize that they have four Oscar nominations between them (with two each). However, we suspect there is more to this movie than just intellectual property exploitation by Mattel and Warner Bros. Pictures (although that is an obvious element). As with how Barbie was subversively used in a couple of the Toy Story movies, the popular iconography (and heavy social commentary) associated with the doll leaves a lot of space for a creator to be subversive (if perhaps not transgressive) and say something unique through the lens nostalgia. And given that this is the movie Gerwig chose to make while fresh off critical and awards darlings Lady Bird (2017) and Little Women (2019)—including by co-writing the Barbie movie with her creative partner Noah Baumbach (Marriage Story, Frances Ha)—suggests there is more at work here than meets the eye.
In the meantime though, it’s just kind of nice to have something with such good vibes out there in the ether. Whereas most news items lead to division and eventually derision on social media, and so many hyped blockbusters involve capes and computer-generated violence, here’s a happy-go-lucky splash of pink, yellow, sunshine, and platinum blonde hair to go with your morning coffee. So yeah, come on Barbie let’s go party.
Barbie is in theaters on July 21.