Greta Gerwig’s Barbie has just become Warner Bros’ most successful film ever. If you’re one of the millions who watched it in cinemas and are waiting to do a rewatch when it finally becomes available for home viewing, here are 8 movies to watch in the meantime.
If You Liked Leaving Barbie Land: Enchanted (2007)
Centered on the animated princess Giselle as she gets thrown into the live-action world of New York City, Enchanted is both a cool tribute to and an affectionate parody of classic Disney princess films.
As they grapple with the real world and try to find out who they are in it, both films treat this exploration of their archetypes — and how Giselle and Barbie could defy them — with plenty of surprising nuance.
Where to watch Enchanted (2007): Disney+
If You Liked the Existentialism: Pleasantville (1998)
Before Tobey Maguire became Spider-Man and Reese Witherspoon gave us Elle Woods, the two of them first starred in Gary Ross’ Pleasantville, a movie about two teen siblings, David and Jennifer, who become trapped in the world of a 1950s TV show.
In Pleasantville, it never rains, basketball players never miss the hoop, and all the roads circle back into town. The residents seem both perfect and perfectly happy — that is until they’re not.
Where as Barbie chooses to leave a dream world, David and Jennifer accidentally enter one. But while the characters’ directions are different, both films raise thought-provoking points on our existence, as well as on gender, repression, and oppression.
Where to watch Pleasantville (1998): Apple TV
If You Liked Barbie Herself: Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004)
Gerwig’s Barbie is the iconic doll’s first and (so far) only live-action film, but long-time Barbie fans know that she’s been in plenty of animated features before — 43 of them, in fact.
Arguably, the best animated Barbie movie of them all is 2004’s Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper, where Barbie plays not one, but two characters: lookalikes Princess Annaliese and peasant girl Erika. The film tells the story of how they meet and how, together, they thwart a nefarious plot to take over the kingdom.
In this movie, the Barbies learn about indentured servitude, structural violence, and using one’s privilege to eradicate both. It also helps that Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper has some really great songs.
Where to watch Barbie as the Princess and the Pauper (2004): Apple TV
If You Liked Greta Gerwig: Frances Ha (2012) And Lady Bird (2017)
Like Barbie, Frances Ha was written by Gerwig and long-time life partner Noah Baumbach. But in this film, Baumbach helms the production as director while Gerwig spends time on screen as Frances, a struggling 27-year-old dancer.
The film follows Frances and her friendship with Sophie, as the latter moves away and the former is forced to move out and find an apartment she can afford. As their friendship shifts with time and the demands of adulthood, the film explores what it means to find yourself and be a grown-up.
For those of us saying goodbye to young adulthood, Frances Ha is one of the most thoughtful and relatable films from the 2010s.
Where to watch Frances Ha (2010): Netflix
The other movie newly minted Gerwig fans should definitely see is 2017’s Lady Bird, which is arguably her best film and definitely one of the best films in general of the 2010s.
Gerwig’s solo directorial debut tells the story of Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson and her strained relationship with her mother, which echoes in her experiences at school, with friends, and with her community.
Saoirse Ronan, who plays the eponymous Lady Bird, is a force to be reckoned with, as is Laurie Metcalf, who plays her mother Marion. Both shine under Gerwig’s sensible direction and thoughtful screenplay.
Where to watch Lady Bird (2017): Amazon Prime and Paramount+
If You Liked Margot Robbie: I, Tonya (2017)
Margot Robbie is the perfect Barbie, but she was also perfect for the starkly different character of Tonya Harding in 2017’s I, Tonya.
Co-produced by Robbie herself, the movie is a biographical mockumentary slash black comedy film that follows the life of the controversial figure skater Tonya Harding and her ties to the 1994 assault on rival Nancy Kerrigan.
Robbie trained for months to be convincing on the ice, even shooting the film with a herniated disc — and the result is nothing short of breathtaking.
I, Tonya cemented Robbie as one of the most captivating actresses today and led to her first Oscar nomination for Best Actress.
Where to watch I, Tonya (2017): HBO Max
If You Liked All the Pink: Legally Blonde (2001)
Reese Witherspoon’s Elle Woods walked so Margot Robbie’s Barbie could run.
Much like Barbie, Elle Woods is a character that many people think they know and subconsciously belittle — what with all the pink and bubbly personality. That is until, of course, she shocks everyone in the movie and those watching it by being just as competent as anybody else and then asking, “What, like it’s hard?”
She’s the character that inspired a generation of women lawyers and taught many of us to be unabashedly feminine. By deciding to succeed at law school for herself (and not her snobby ex-boyfriend), Elle Woods showed us that a love of girly things and success are not mutually exclusive — a message that Barbie took even further this year.
Where to watch Legally Blonde (2001): Amazon Prime
If You Liked the Sentient Toys: Toy Story (1995)
But before Barbie and the Transformers films, 1995’s Toy Story already showed us the value of nostalgia and the curious imagination. The animated classic has a very similar starting point as 2023’s Barbie, and that is to ask: What if a toy is sentient, realizes they are not who they think they are, and then suffers an existential crisis?
And while there are some key differences — such as how Barbie has her own universe apart from humans, while Woody and Buzz Lightyear exist in our world — both films ultimately are about searching for purpose and realizing one’s self.
Where to watch Toy Story (1995): Disney+