Why You Should See ‘Barbie’ Before ‘Oppenheimer’


We spend the better part of three hours inside of Cillian Murphy’s head with his portrayal of J. Robert Oppenheimer, as Nolan’s script is written in the first person. You’ll likely spend the better part of the rest of your night trying to get out of your own head. Easily the best performance of the actor’s lengthy career, Murphy is equally delicate as he is powerful, leading a stacked supporting cast led by Matt Damon, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., and Florence Pugh. 

Oppenheimer takes time presenting both sides of the moral dilemma behind the atomic bomb and whether it should be used on civilians. One thing that the movie never does is tell you how you should feel, that’s for you to come up with on your own. We all know the story of the weapon’s creation and usage, but Nolan is masterful in displaying the ethical predicament the key players in this story faced throughout. 

You are not going to want to sit in the theater listening to Ryan Gosling sing shirtless while you still have the image of Murphy’s hauntingly blue eyes in your head all night. You aren’t going to want to watch Will Ferrell skate through Barbie Land on neon green roller blades while you’re thinking about Damon’s General Groves screaming, “This is the most important thing to happen in the history of the world,” while recruiting scientists to help him build the deadliest weapon ever.

I totally understand the camp of folks out there that are going to tell you that Barbie is a necessary palette cleanser after seeing an atomic bomb movie, but Oppenehimer is a film that you need time to digest and think about. The Margot Robbie-led project is certainly formidable in its own right, but it’s not going to leave the same lasting impression on you that Nolan’s will. 

Again, I am not here to shit on Barbie. It is an excellent live-action adaptation of one of the most iconic toys in history, and directed by an immensely talented filmmaker. It is witty and honestly hilarious in almost all of the right places and does a seamless job of providing entertainment for both teenagers and adults. 

Barbie is self-aware when it needs to be, cracking jokes at its own expense, breaking down the fourth wall, and making references to other parts of real-world pop culture. America Ferrera delivers a heartfelt speech at the movie’s turning point that does an impressive job of relating the life of a toy to that of an actual person. Robbie as Barbie is about as perfect of a casting decision as can be, and Gosling’s commitment to the role of Ken might legitimately have him in the discussion come awards season. 

If you love going to the movies as much as I do, do yourself a favor and book that Barbenheimer double feature. Do yourself an even bigger favor and make sure you see Barbie before you see Oppenheimer. If, for some terrible reason, you decide to do the opposite, prepare yourself for an hour and 54 minute journey through Barbie Land with an extra large cup of “Oh shit, the world can end at literally any minute” to wash down your popcorn.