LEAVING MALIBULAND: The Malibu Flavors of ‘Barbie’

Barbie Movie poster. Contributed photo.

By Benjamin Marcus

If, like your Humble Narrator (YHN), you are loath to actually leave Malibu for any reason short of fleeing a firestorm, presenting/accepting at the Academy Awards, or you’re fiending for a Pink’s polish sausage with pastrami and sauerkraut, you might be surprised what new wonders await you over the Santa Monica Mountains and far away.

Too impatient for “Barbie” to stream, YHN and a patriarchy-obsessed, anarcho-feminist friend drove all the way to the Valley to see the billion-dollar baby.

“Valley” is what YHN sneeringly considers everything outside of Malibuland on the other side of the Santa Monica Mountains. If you can’t see the sea, it’s Valley. And while that’s not geographically correct, “Valley” includes Westlake Village.

The geosnobbery comes from the truth that Malibu is 21 miles of raw, feral, natural, beautiful, ocean-cooled, defiantly non-commercial and underdeveloped quiet seaside community. In contrast, Valley is planned communities carved from desert dryness, shopping malls, strip malls, and air conditioning. To an ocean-minded person. Valley inspires two words: “mallaise” and “Agouraphobia.”

However, Cineopolis Luxury Cinema at the Promenade at Westlake is a thoroughly modern movie theater and it’s something.

An adult ticket is $18.50. To paraphrase David Letterman: “$18.50 here and $18.50 there and pretty soon you’re talking real money.”

But there are luxuries. To quote Vincent Vega from “Pulp Fiction”: “You can walk into a movie theater in Amsterdam and buy a beer. And I don’t mean just like no paper cup. I’m talkin’ about a glass of beer.”

Cineopolis has Amsterdam beat: A glass of beer, cocktails, wine, and margaritas are there in the lobby along with comfy chairs in an air-conditioned room waiting for the movie to start.

So not only that, but Cineopolis offers a full menu from which you can order comfort/finger foods delivered to incredibly comfortable, reclining seats with removable armrests just in case someone needs a CBD-infused foot massage or something.

Prices are Malibuish: $10.50 for bottomless popcorn served in a bowl. And I don’t mean like no paper bowl. I’m talking about a metal bowl.

Besides that Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the show? What can be said about “Barbie” that hasn’t already been Freuded, Steinemed, Eberted, Mahered, Trumped, Tuckered, Piersed, poked, prodded, Adam and Eved, right-winged and left-winged?

There’s the Malibu angle. As seen from this 21 miles of scenic beauty between the Santa Monica Mountains and the deep blue sea, Malibu people will notice more than a few grains of Malibucentricism alchemized into the lavish, colorful sets and design of “Barbie.”

“Barbie” is all about Stereotypical Barbie falling from grace in Barbieland and her journey to the “real world” of Los Angeles/Santa Monica. It’s not hard to argue that compared to the rest of SoCal, Malibu is a kind of impossible Barbieland of swimming fools and movie stars, natural beauty, beautiful houses, and beautiful cars with beautiful dreams inside.

The backdrop of Barbieland looks a lot like the mountainous backdrop of Malibu — although online stories say those are the San Jacinto Mountains, behind Palm Springs. There are Malibu shirts scattered around here and at some point Simi Liu’s Ken challenges Ryan Gosling’s Ken to a “beach off” at Malibu. The whole beach obsession is very Malibu.

Little known fact: Ruth Handler — the creator of the Barbie doll — lived in Malibu Colony with her husband Elliott Handler, a co-founder of Mattel. They named their dolls Barbie and Ken after their own children and made SERIOUS bank on Barbie dolls and accoutrement from day one and skyrocketing up to now.

In 1959 — the year Barbie was introduced — Mattel sold 300,000 dolls at $3 each for a whopping $900,000 ($9,283,882.21 in modern dollars). Sixty-plus-years later, citizens purchase 100 Barbie dolls every 60 seconds. That adds up to sales of over 1 billion a year, every year.

Righteous bucks! Which allowed the Handlers in 1993 to buy a 4,225-square-foot, five-bedroom, four-bathroom beachfront Malibu Colony house built in 1949 (#73 if you must know). Ruth Handler passed on to Barbieland in 2002 and her husband joined her in 2011. The house sold for $9.8 million in 2015. The creators of Barbie and the namesakes for Barbie and Ken lived in Malibuland and maybe that’s partly why the movie “Barbie” is infused with the look and feel of Malibu.

Add to that, the movie “Don’t Make Waves,” which starred Sharon Tate as a bodacious blonde beach babe named Malibu, who some say inspired Malibu Barbie, which first sold in 1971 — two years after the tragic murder of Sharon Tate.

So there’s more than a little Malibu DNA in Barbie the doll and “Barbie” the movie, but is it worth driving over the mountains and far away to sit in a theater to see it?

Rotten Tomatoes gave it an 88 percent rating but the number that matters is the boffo $1.18 billion “Barbie” had earned as of Aug. 13. You’re talking real money.

“Barbie” the movie is an opinion divider in these divisive times. The story made my patriarchy-obsessed, anarcho-feminist friend cry and laugh and girl-power-fist pump and cry some more.

In this corner you have pressured-speech, right-wing-nong Ben Shapiro babbling and yaddaing on for 43 minutes about the wokeness of “Barbie.”

In that other corner, usually grumpy New Yorker reviewer Richard Brody loved the movie in a review effusively titled “Barbie is Brilliant, Beautiful and Fun as Hell.” Brody babbled a bit himself: “’Barbie’ is about the intellectual demand and emotional urgency of making preëxisting subjects one’s own, and it advocates for imaginative infidelity, the radical off-label manipulation of existing intellectual property.”

Say what?

You’ll just have to see it for yourself, but if you can’t wait for “Barbie” to come streaming into your home theater, Cineopolis is a pretty cool place to see this Malibu-infused movie. And since you’re over there anyway maybe stop at Costco or In N Out before you canyon-rush back to this side and breathe a big sigh of relief that Malibuland is what it is — a beautyarchy mostly undefiled by the mallaise and Agouraphobia of the outside world.

Got tips? Gripes? Email YHN at thebenmalibu@gmail.com