Critic Consensus: Unevenly paced and thoroughly cheesy, Barbarella is nonetheless full of humor, entertaining visuals, and Jane Fonda's sex appeal.
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Critic Reviews for Barbarella
The film is ugly on so many levels -- from art direction to human values -- that it's hard to know where to begin.
Despite a certain amount of production dash and polish and a few silly-funny lines of dialog, Barbarella isn't very much of a film.
Terry Southern's dialogue occasionally sparkles, and the imaginative designs, as shot by Claude Renoir, look really splendid.
Throughout the movie, there is the assumption that just mentioning a thing (sex, politics, religion) makes it funny and that mentioning it in some offensive context makes it funnier.
Audience Reviews for Barbarella
A film that divides even the best lovers of camp and filth, Barbarella is a complicated film to review but an intoxicating one to watch. Far less than a real tale of a strong female warrior in the depths of space, Fonda's performance is one of innocence and sexual unrest. In her physical prime at the time, not much of the film is about the exploits of this space assassin and much more of it circles her body and the sexual shenanigans she gets herself into. Barbarella isn't even a real character, but more a sex addict with a capacity for learning that spans the length of her own petite hand. She always seems surprised or discombobulated, and she's supposed to be the professional asskicker that the film bodes. Though Barbarella isn't the crusading feminist icon I was hoping for, she is an interesting character, in that she finds interesting worlds and people to engage with. Little of the story makes proper sense and it really doesn't matter, because it's about the exploits of Barbarella. There are at least four sex scenes within the film, and plenty more alluded to and partially shown. She has sex with furry mountain men, angels, machines, and through futuristic means. She always seems surprised by what she's doing, but always willing, never satisfied by either her conquering of worlds or foreplay. The worlds she moves between often consist of partially nude nymphs, with alien exteriors. Though most of this is fun frolicking, there is consistently an ick factor: the time period. The sixties had a lot of it and it is reflected in the cheaply made sets, the tone deaf score and music, including that Tom Jones rip-off theme song, and the dialogue, filled with the overbearing "groovy"s and "great man"s of the day. There wasn't any womanly pride, no trace of feminism, but certainly the overtones of sexual revolution and reinvention. It is certainly a great film to see for the progression in Fonda's career or if you like kinky, exploitative, cheap, sci-fi from the sixties.
Based on some comic book I've never heard of, this is swingin' 60s campy sci-fi schlock romp about a gorgeous (and ditzy) outer space agent named Barbarella who is sent to search for a missing inventor and stop any evil threatening to wreak havoc upon the galaxy.
Barbarella is basically a bubbly female James Bond who wears a number of different skin tight space outfits, and somehow usually finds a way to lose varying degrees of said outfits throughout the course of her adventure.. In fact, the movie gets kicked off by having our title character float around in zero gravity and strip her clothes off as the opening credits "try" to cover up some of her more naughty bits.
This is not really a good movie, and it is quite campy, silly, and dumb, but even then, it is quite entertaining, and reasonably fun. The set and costume designs are really cheeky, the music is typical 60s poon palace music, and, despite not doing that great of an acting job, Jane Fonda definitely has a wonderful, likable, and certainly memorable presence as the title character. I also loved the hardly subtle dirty humor and sexual undertones here, definitely making this a product of its time.
If you're bored and want to kill some time (and maybe a couple of brain cells), and don't mind settling for dopey crap, then this would be a wise choice for viewing. It's not great, but it does at least put forth a little bit of effort, even if it ultimately comes up short.
Curvaceous Barbarella flies across the galaxy in her swinging bachelorette pad searching for Duran Duran and, in the process, meeting a blind angel, smoking the Essence of Man in a city of sin, and breaking the Orgasmatron. Kinky, kitschy psychedelic sci-fi fun with unforgettable sets and costumes.
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