Thursday, July 20, 2023: Preparing for a research trip. Departure time: 2:30 P. Destination: Cinemark Grand Cinemas, Walla Walla, WA. Purpose: to attend the first Walla Walla showing of the new movie “Barbie.”


You know we really don’t care for dolls.


That’s true, Lily. We’re stuffed animal people though we did make a couple of exceptions along the way. First, we liked Troll Dolls.


They have such cute belly buttons! We got them at Southwood’s where Grandma Gretchen worked.


Such good memories of Southwood’s with Gram behind the counter. Sometimes she wrapped gifts as well as cashiering. It was fascinating to watch her curl ribbon with the blade of a scissor.


But I digress.


Our other doll “departure” was Little Kiddles- -not all of them, just the Storybook ones, like Cinderella and Alice in Wonderland.


They have Alice in Wonderland? She’s my favorite!


They do, 9, and for your next birthday Uncle Dennie will send you a check for fifteen dollars, can you believe it? Alice, with an “Alice in WonderLiddle” play set that includes a croquet garden house-like thingy and a rubber figure of the Mad Hatter costs $7.50, so you’ll have money to spare.



Returning to today’s mission and the subject of Barbie. . .The first thing to know is we’re going in costume.


How exciting! As Barbie?


No, as Skipper. For one thing, I’m a little sister in life and in art (Schwartz Sisters). For another, I have neither the natural attributes nor the necessary prosthetics to impersonate Barbie.


Be sure to take a picture!


Will do! Coming soon: What Happened!!!!!!!!!!!!

Barbie’s little sister, Skipper in “just out of the box” pose. Her brown hair got all fuzzy from too much playing so we had to borrow Midge’s red. . .

* * * * *

Okay, we’re back! Lily, 9, what did you think?


I enjoyed going in costume and we were convincing as Skipper, especially when we bought our ticket and concessions.


Yeah, thanks for getting Junior Mints. No one seemed to notice how we were dressed, though?

What does Barbie’s little sister Skipper eat at the movies? Junior Mints, of course!

Going in costume was an experiment, 9. It’s fun when other people notice and interact with us when we do, but the real idea was to dare ourselves to do something unusual and follow through with it. Kind of livens things up, you know? Also, it got me into the spirit of the thing! And I think you’re wrong about no one noticing. Quite a few people looked sideways at us as if they were wondering “What the heck?”


It’s good to give other people things to think about, like what kind of crazy person would wear a big wig topped with a straw boater in the 104-degree heat.


Answer: You.


Enough about our costume, what did you think of the movie?


Overall I enjoyed it, though I’m not a fan of hot pink. There was a lot of it in the set and costumes. The dance numbers were a pleasant surprise.

I liked those, too. My favorite character was Weird Barbie.


I thought all the acting was good and Kate McKinnon does an excellent job, for sure.


I kind of didn’t get some of it, though? The plot stuff, I mean.


Understandable, 9, and I don’t think this movie was made with younger kids in mind. The subject matter includes female empowerment, The Patriarchy, existential melt-downs, identity issues, capitalism, consumerism, body image- -all kinds of things that someone your age might find hard to relate to. Plus a lot of double entendres.


Double what?

Words or expressions capable of two interpretations.


One of the key characters is a “tween” girl. Did you identify with her, Lily?


Yes. She was quite intelligent and outspoken.


The audience (about 50 or 60 in a theater that could hold many times that number) ranged mostly from Millennials to Boomers. Three high school-aged girls were there, too, but no young kids, not surprising as “Barbie” is rated PG-13. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves- -plenty of laughter at both situations and specific lines.


Also, Barbie evolved, the true test of any fictional character. She was never a mean or bad person but at the start was shallow and self-absorbed. Adverse circumstances and how she faced them moved her into a place of compassion. If you’re looking for a profound summer movie this probably isn’t it, but if you seek a couple hours of nostalgia-flavored satire with a sprinkling of depth and social commentary I encourage you to give “Barbie” a try.


Do I recommend attending in costume? Yes, if that’s your kind of fun! It certainly is mine, and I’m already thinking about a 1940s ensemble to wear to “Oppenheimer.” Who knows, if I do it often enough the multiplex staff might start thinking of me as “that woman who theme dresses for movies.” Why limit yourself to “Rocky Horror Picture Show”?


But the important takeaway: whether you decide to see “Barbie” or not just get out there and do something fun!

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