The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


The Student News Site of University of Central Missouri


The ‘Barbenheimer’ thing

A review of ‘Barbie’ and ‘Oppenheimer’
Graphic by Nate Sullens

 The summer of 2023 was huge for moviegoers. Some big hits were “The Little Mermaid” (2023) and “Spider-man: Across the Spider-Verse” (2023). And of course, if you were anywhere on the internet this summer, you probably heard of “Barbie” (2023) and “Oppenheimer” (2023). “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” took the media by storm very quickly, all on the basis that they were being released on the same day, July 21. 

  This becoming so widespread on the internet was likely due to the juxtaposition between the two movies. “Barbie” directed by Greta Gerwig is a fun, campy movie about Barbie dolls while “Oppenheimer” directed by Christopher Nolan is about J. Robert Oppenheimer and his process of creating the atomic bomb. The movies’ themes also seemed to contradict one movie was about life vs death, being in control of your fate and what it means to be human. And the other movie was about life vs death, being in control of your fate and what it means to be human. While I am completely oversimplifying both movies for the sake of this joke, both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” have some strangely similar themes. 

  The internet dubbed this event “Barbenheimer.” One of my favorite things about the mass media attention was that it got people excited about movies again. With more and more streaming services available, some people see no reason to go to the movie theater. But with Barbenheimer, there was so much buzz about going to the theater. People wanted to watch both in the same day, themed outfits were made specifically for wearing to both movies and discussions as to what order the films should be watched in. The media hype definitely helped both movies’ performance at the box office.

  According to Box Office Mojo, “Barbie” has made $1.38 billion worldwide and $614 million domestically. While “Oppenheimer” has made $865 million worldwide and $312 million domestically. Domestically, “Barbie” is the number 1 movie in 2023 and “Oppenheimer” is number 5. Worldwide, “Barbie” is the number 1 movie in 2023 and “Oppenheimer” is number 3.

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However, both movies are still in theaters so these numbers are subject to change. 

  Being the movie buff that I am, I of course had to go see both “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” on July 21. After spending about 7 consecutive hours at the movie theater, I have lots of thoughts about both films. I saw “Barbie” first and it honestly was the one I was most excited to see. I will briefly discuss both movies in a spoiler-free review. 

  As I said, I was super excited to see the Barbie movie. Ever since the movie was announced back in 2021, I’ve been looking forward to watching it. The marketing for “Barbie” was amazing. All the trailers and promo photos are so good that I could write an entire article on just the marketing of “Barbie.” 

  In my opinion, “Barbie” is one of the best films I’ve seen in a long time. It has easily made its way to my top three favorite movies. The humor in “Barbie” is very on the nose and meta. There’s been a lot of talk that the Barbie movie is “anti-men” or “feminist propaganda” but that’s not true at all. People who say that didn’t actually pay attention to the film. “Barbie” is pro-humans; it’s about learning to live your life by your own choices and how, oftentimes, the world puts us down for doing so and how it affects both men and women.

  Even if you’re not after an existential life crisis, the Barbie movie is still a good watch. The humor hits, the cast is impeccable and it’s aesthetically perfect. I couldn’t recommend “Barbie” enough. Easily 10 out of 10.

  Of course, you have to follow up “Barbie” with “Oppenheimer.”  I honestly wouldn’t have seen “Oppenheimer” if it wasn’t for the Barbenheimer thing. But I’m glad I did. I liked it more than I thought I would. It’s a longer movie, about 3 hours long, which I don’t like. 

  However,  I thought the cinematography was excellent. Cillian Murphy, who plays Robert Oppenheimer, has a very solid performance. I think his performance carries the movie at several points. In fact, I think all the main actors were well cast and played well. The story itself was intriguing as well. At first, the split-up storyline was confusing but you can catch on after a little while. 

  Unfortunately, one movie has to come in second place, and when you’re up against “Barbie,” it’s hard to compete. While I liked “Oppenheimer” I had a lot more issues and nitpicks than I did “Barbie.” As I said, “Oppenheimer” is long and I rarely have the patience for long movies. A film has to try very hard to keep my interest for 3 hours and “Oppenheimer” failed in that regard. 

  The pacing of the last 30-45 minutes slows to a crawl as various characters argue back and forth in the various timelines. While I didn’t expect the movie to be all bombs and explosions, I at least expected its content to be interesting. Instead, you get too long conversations with characters whose names you haven’t bothered to remember.  

  Also going straight from “Barbie” to “Oppenheimer” gave me some whiplash in terms of female representation. “Barbie” is very pro-women and has a cast of mostly women while “Oppenheimer” really only has two female characters. And I personally didn’t find Florence Pugh’s character as the communist mistress or Emily Blunt’s character as the drunken, neglectful housewife particularly appealing. 

  I know I can’t be too harsh on the characters since they are based on real people and I would obviously prefer a realistic portrayal instead of a fabricated one. So I don’t really know what the solution to that problem is, it was just something I noticed.

  I would rate “Oppenheimer” a 7 out of 10. And I would recommend people see it. It’s important history that you aren’t always taught about. If you are into other Nolan films or artsy films, I think you would like it.

  While it’s happened before, movies coming out on the same day is still uncommon. The international buzz around Barbenheimer definitely cements its place in film and internet history. So if you want to be a part of this niche history go ‘do the Barbenheimer thing.’ Both films are still in theaters and remember to wear your brightest pink to “Barbie” and your snappiest suit to “Oppenheimer” or vice versa.

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About the Contributor
Megan Weaver, Reporter
Megan Weaver is a sophomore at the University of Central Missouri. She is majoring in Digital Media Production with a focus in Cinematography and a minor in Creative Writing. She has been with The Muleskinner since Fall 2022. Megan loves writing movie reviews and analyses for The Muleskinner. Her goal is to let her film opinions be known to a wide audience, whether they want to hear them or not.

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