Saturday, February 24

Ryan Gosling as Ken in the new Barbie film is a masterstroke of casting | Film

Wand live in fractional times. The internet has reduced us all to thousands of ultra-specific tribes, all of whom sit in angry, steadfast opposition to one another. At our worst, it feels like humanity might not ever be able to agree upon anything ever again. But this week, a miracle happened. Two photographs were published to the internet; two photographs that instantly united the whole world into one universally agreed-upon opinion. And that opinion is this: The Barbie movie looks quite good.

Although that was already the consensus, given that it’ll be directed by Greta Gerwig from a script she co-wrote with Noah Baumbach, the photos of the two leads put it beyond all doubt. Margot Robbie, who plays Barbie, is instantly as Barbie-esque as you could imagine, all blond hair and smiles and bright pink car. Her de ella Barbie de ella looks like a version of Robbie’s Sharon Tate, or Robbie’s character from The Wolf of Wall Street. The casting is perfect.

And then there’s Ryan Gosling. Gosling will play Ken in Barbie and, again, it’s a role he was born to play. His hair is bleached peroxide blond, like it was in The Place Beyond the Pines. His abs and arms of him are on display, like they were in Crazy, Stupid, Love. He has a blankly impenetrable facial expression, like he did in most of that Blade Runner film. Throw him in his outfit – which, underwear aside, is entirely made up of stonewash denim – and there is a very strong chance that this will be his defining role.

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As Barbie-esque as you could imagine … Margot Robbie. Photograph: Jaap Buitendijk

The casting is so perfect, in fact, that this might necessitate a rethink when it comes to movie adaptations of toy franchises. Until now, the instinct has largely been to either drown everyone in an inconsistent CGI sludge (Transformers) or to just cast the nearest A-lister regardless of their suitability for the role (The Rock in GI Joe: Retaliation).

So let’s start now. Given the internet-breaking power of the Gosling and Robbie Barbie photos, the smartest thing we could do is to attach the following stars to these as-yet-unmade toy movies as quickly as possible.


For a period of time, Barbie lost pace to Bratz dolls; a range of tacky and uncomfortably sexualized fashion dolls. There was an attempt in 2007 to make a Bratz movie, but the film failed for all manner of reasons, not least because the stars weren’t (and still aren’t) famous enough. If Bratz is going to succeed at the box office, it needs leads who – like the dolls – have become careworn and neglected since their early-2000s heyday. This is why it needs to star Lindsay Lohan, Paris Hilton and Tara Reid.

Stretch Armstrong

A perennial favourite, thanks to his gel-filled limbs, Stretch Armstrong has yet to translate to movies. God knows that Hollywood has tried, though, variously casting Tim Allen, Taylor Lautner and Danny DeVito in multiple failed adaptations. The issue, you suspect, is that they haven’t found the right Stretch yet. Stretch Armstrong is blond and rugged, kind but athletic. It takes a very special person to play him, which is why I suggest literally any Hollywood actor named Chris.

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Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry Shortcake was a wildly popular greetings card mascot who became a toy sensation in the 1980s. Although she still exists as an ongoing IP – most recently in Netflix’s animated Strawberry Shortcake: Berry in the Big City movie – she has yet to receive the full Barbie treatment. This would be best achieved by putting Emma Stone in a big hat and letting her do whatever she wants.

the next He-Man, Kyle Allen.
Too young… the next He-Man, Kyle Allen. Photograph: Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty Images


Readers of a certain age will remember Sindy as Barbie’s British rival. Less famous and slightly inferior to her American counterpart, Sindy nonetheless attracted the ire of Barbie’s creators, Mattel, who promptly filed a copyright infringement lawsuit against its manufacturers for allegedly ripping off their better known creation. As such it only seems fair that a Sindy movie should star Robbie after a botched round of cosmetic surgery and several catastrophic dental procedures.


There is actually a Masters of the Universe movie being made, and it begins shooting next year. The lead has already been cast, and He-Man will be played by Kyle Allen from West Side Story. But this feels like a mistake. Judging by all the photos of Allen online, he looks too young and meek to play the defender of Eternia. Instead, we need someone a little older, with bleach-blond hair and rippling abs and a skin tone that only falls slightly short of being radioactive. That’s right, He-Man should be played by Ken from the Barbie movie – Ryan Gosling.

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