It’s here because there’s a Corvette in the movie! In fact, all the Barbies in Barbieland own and drive Corvettes. And who deosn’t love Corvettes? These are somewhat stylized, completely modified, shortened C1 Corvettes with back seats. And Barbie’s Corvette serves as the vehicle in which she escapes Barbieland to go out in the real world.
But is the presence of a small fleet of what may be 1958 Corvette-inspired movie cars enough to warrant plunking down $16 to go see the nearly two-hour movie when it opens worldwide on Friday, July 21? Not just for the Corvettes, no.
Using Hollywood insider connections, I got to see the entire movie last night, and I kept you, the reader, in mind the whole time. And frankly speaking, while you will almost certainly get a kick out of the Corvettes, especially when Margot Robbie barrel rolls one of them, it’s entirely possible you would not like the movie as a whole. But that’s just based on armchair psychographics of reader comments for numerous other stories. Judging by those, you guys love: Corvettes, whatever car you had in high school, whatever car you own now, all three generations of Earnhardts, everything Tony Stewart does, and the complexities of the Ford nine-inch rear end. Some of the movie’s themes might exceed the parameters of those subjects. So go see Mission Impossible: Tax Audit instead. Because most of the second half of the movie has to do with issues that may grate on your various sensitivities.
If you’re still reading, then you at least want to find out what those sensitivities are. I did. In addition to the Vettes, I was drawn to the movie by the very entertaining trailers that make it look like an existentialist sendup of a beloved child’s toy aimed at girls as seen through modern feminist ideologies. Take this perfect doll and plunk her into a modern reality she has never encountered, make her human, with human feelings and human complexities, instead of just being 11-and-a-half-inches of plastic perfection.
It starts out like the fun world we see in the trailers: Every day in Barbieland is perfect, every Barbie is perfect, every Barbie friendship is perfect. Then, real human thoughts intrude on Barbieland. She thinks about death, cellulite, and why she has to wear high heels all the time. Which sends her on a journey of self-discovery. She goes to the real world, with decidedly imperfect humans and where no day is exactly like the other, as it was in Barbieland. Ken tags along, learns the word “patriarchy,” and starts to see that he doesn’t have to be just a boy toy anymore. Everyone is liberated!
Audience reactions to the movie’s existential scenes will likely be drawn along gender lines. When the Mattel employee played by America Ferrera is describing the difficulties thrust upon women by Barbie’s perfection, many in the audience cheered—there was one, “You go girl!” But others might be less enthusiastic about this teaching moment. The plot goes from the fun, happy Barbieland of the movie trailers into an inside view of the role gender inflicts on half the population.
Or is that a vast oversimplification? Maybe you should go see it. Tell us what you thought of it in the comments below. There’s a lot more going on here than just the Corvettes. But the Corvettes are cool.
THIS JUST IN: Warner Bros. just responded to a list of questions we sent in about the Barbie Corvette. We got answers from Nico Ferrari (great name!) who runs ‘Picture Vehicles,’ the company that worked on all the vehicles in the film. Who knew it was remote-controlled?
Autoweek: How did you choose the Corvette to be Barbie's car? Were any other cars considered? She has been associated with many different models over the years, from an Austin-Healey to a Ferrari.
Nico Ferrari: Truth is, a decision of this magnitude involves a huge element of product placement discussions with multiple manufacturers. Other vehicles were considered, but the relationship with Corvette was the most attractive from all angles.
AW: Does the car in the movie actually drive?
NF: Yes, but not by the driver inside! The car was driven remotely by an operator using a VR headset! This was felt the safest option to allow Margot to fully express herself in the vehicle without having to worry about controlling the vehicle.
AW: How did you build it? Is it on the frame rails of another car or is it all a unique platform?
NF: A lot of hard work from an amazing crew! Nothing on the car is ‘off the shelf.' Everything, including the chassis and the body had to be custom made. There are no components from an existing car on the Barbie car we built. It wasn't possible to use anything from a real world car as it would all be too big! The Barbie car is 23% smaller than the original Corvette, so the whole car had to be drawn, manufactured and installed to create the finished piece!
AW: What powers it? I assume it's a small electric motor? Is it front wheel-drive or rear wheel-drive?
NF: A small electric motor, similar to the type found in a golf buggy. Direct drive to a rear differential to power the rear wheels! Very simple, very easy! Some hidden 12volt batteries from a fork lift hidden under the rear passenger seat!
AW: Does Barbie - Margot - actually drive it, as in step on an accelerator pedal and steer, or is it on a rail of some sort?
NF: It cannot be operated from inside the car, the only way to move it is the VR remote system which was installed by the SFX (Special Effects) team. It doesn’t even have fake pedals inside, just a steering wheel!
AW: Is there only one or were there several cars for different scenes?
NF: In total, we made 5. Margot’s never changed and was a different shade of pink to two other cars which were a darker more vibrant pink. We also made a yellow and a blue. The blue car was the one we wrapped in Ken’s Kendom graphic with the flames.
AW: Is there a motor home in the movie? Does that drive?
NF: No motorhome, but two ambulances. One for when Ken has his accident on the beach and ‘Weird Barbie’ has an ambulance to use when she’s collecting the Barbie’s for reprogramming. These are based on the same system and technology as the Barbie cars!