It goes without saying that one of the biggest (and best) films of 2023 is Barbie – the Greta Gerwig-directed fantasy romp starring Margot Robbie. Not only did it break records at the box office for Warner Bros., but critics also praised Robbie’s film. Of course, as is the case with all movies, not everyone is a fan. A handful of notable individuals have spoken out against the flick, and the latest to do so is veteran filmmaker Oliver Stone. He recently expressed his disdain for the production and didn’t mince words while doing so. Among Stone’s thoughts was even the notion that “Ryan Gosling is wasting his time.”
Oliver Stone has crafted some of the most iconic films within the history of cinema, from Wall Street and Born on the Fourth of July to JFK and Nixon. Aside from discussing his own movies, he doesn’t mind sharing his opinions on the work that other filmmakers have done. With that in mind, he had no problem sharing his two cents on Barbie after an interviewer joked about the possibility of him helming a sequel to the pink-tinted motion picture. In addition to taking issue with the flick itself, Stone also believes it contributes to a negative trend in the entertainment industry:
Ridiculous. Ryan Gosling is wasting his time if he’s doing that shit for money. He should be doing more serious films. He shouldn’t be a part of this infantilization of Hollywood. Now it’s all fantasy, fantasy, fantasy, including all the war pictures: fantasy, fantasy. Even the Fast and Furious movies, which I used to enjoy, have become like Marvel movies. I mean, how many crashes can you see?
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It’s worth mentioning that the 77-year-old Oscar winner didn’t clarify to Yahoo! whether he actually watched the movie for himself. Still, regardless of whether he’s screened it or not, the movie’s existence and impact don’t seem to sit well with him. The sentiments he shared seem to tie into a larger discussion that’s been present within the film community for a while now. Many have debated the industry’s heavy dependence on major IPs and blockbusters in order to get movie lovers in theaters. Some believe that such fare negatively impacts viewers, because they supposedly lack substance. Some probably remember when Martin Scorsese made headlines several years ago for comparing Marvel movies to theme parks and saying that cinemas “shouldn’t be invaded” by them.
As mentioned, Oliver Stone isn’t the only person who’s spoken out and chastised Barbie. Another notable figure that did that was political pundit Bill Maher, who blasted the film for being “preachy” and “man-hating.” Additionally, some right-wing pundits have taken issue with the production. Greta Gerwig responded to the backlash and acknowledged the considerable amount of “passion” prevalent within the responses. At the time, she also expressed her hope that the film would serve as “an invitation for everybody to be part of the party.”
The criticism aside, it would seem that most were taken with the production, with many lauding it for its direction, script, production design and more. A considerable amount of praise also went towards the cast of Barbie, especially Ryan Gosling. His humorous and heartbreaking turn as Ken has been considered one of the highlights of the movie. And now, Gosling is in the Best Supporting Actor discussion when it comes to the Oscars.
As awards season pushes on, it’s pretty much a given that Greta Gerwig’s latest will continue to be praised. What’ll be interesting far beyond that, though, is how the movie continues to resonate with audiences in the years to come. We’ll also see what other notable filmmakers opt to weigh in on it and whether their sentiments line up with Oliver Stone’s.