7 Netflix and Max movies to get you ready for Barbie

Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn in Birds of Prey
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Discovery)

Barbie fever is in full swing. From the first leaked images to the teaser trailer that played homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey, to the massive marketing campaign that can be spotted on billboards, buses, and even Doctor Who's TARDIS, the first-live action Barbie movie is undoubtedly one of the biggest talking points of the year.

Starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, the story is set to follow the plastic pair as they leave the utopian Barbie Land to go on a journey of self-discovery. Outside of that, plot details surrounding the fantasy comedy are thin on the ground. What we do know is that there are plenty of films from throughout the decades that have inspired Barbie, with director Greta Gerwig recently speaking to speaking to Letterboxd about these. 

So we've drawn from Gerwig's list, as well as the previous movies of Barbie's stars and director, to create a list of movies on Netflix and Max (or Binge in Australia if you want HBO content) to get you excited and in the right mindset for Barbie.

Singing in the Rain

Watch it on: Max in the US, rental only in the UK, Binge in Australia

Since Barbie is directly inspired by classic Hollywood musicals, the much beloved 1952 Singin' in the Rain mas to make our list. The dream ballet within a dream ballet sequence, in particular, was cited as one of the biggest reasons why the film has remained one of Greta Gerwig's favourites. Gene Kelly at his very best.

Birds of Prey

Watch it on: Max in the US, rental only in the UK, Binge in Australia

Margot Robbie has played some outlandish characters during her time in Hollywood, none more so than the actress' take on Harley Quinn. While first debuting in the abysmal Suicide Squad back in 2016 (not to be confused with the much more respectable The Suicide Squad from 2021, which Robbie is excellent in; we know the naming is a nightmare), Robbie really got to paint the town red in 2020's Birds of Prey. If the wildly inventive fight choreography doesn't do it for you, the thrilling rollerskate chase down the streets of Gotham will.

La La Land

Watch it on: Netflix in the US, Prime Video in the UK and Australia

If like us, you have an unhealthy obsession with Ryan Gosling, then the best way to prepare for his performance as Ken is to see him strutting his stuff in La La Land. Written and directed by Damien Chazelle, the modern musical is quirky, colorful and just a general joy to behold. Everything we're expecting Barbie to be. 


Watch it on: Max in the US, Paramount Plus in the UK, Binge in Australia

John Travolta. Olivia Newton-John. Tight black trousers. And a soundtrack that has made an appearance at every wedding since 1978. Everyone likes a bit of Grease. So does Greta Gerwig, again citing the movie for her official Barbie watchlist. One very famous sequence involving a flying magical car during the climax of Grease certainly gives off big Barbie vibes.

Frances Ha

Watch it on: Netflix in the US, rental in the UK, Binge in Australia

As a comedy from the same writing duo (Gerwig and Noah Baumbach) as Barbie, this is an ideal primer – and it stars Gerwig, too. When not behind the camera, Gerwig can be seen in front of it with a host of credits, including Jackie, White Noise, and 20th Century Women. In stark opposition to the Barbie's big and brash colors, this is a black-and-white comedy-drama about an aspiring dancer trying to figure out what to do with her life. With self-discovery set to play a major part in Barbie, this is a great way of getting familiar with Gerwig's style. 

The Wizard of Oz

Watch it on: Max in the US, Sky/Now TV in the UK, Binge in Australia

Barbie looks to emulate The Wizard of Oz with big sound stages of fantastic lands, painted backdrops, and its very own Pink Brick Road. The 1939 musical is also seen playing in theatres in Barbie Land, it looms that large over the new movie – and, unsurprisingly it's one of the movies Gerwig called out as an influence. There might be no place like home, but there's certainly no place like the theaters come Barbie's opening.

The Toys That Made Us – Barbie

Still from The Toys That Made Us showing multiple Barbie models on a shelf

(Image credit: Netflix)

Watch it on: Netflix worldwide

Okay, let us cheat a bit here. While not technically a film, this 44-minute documentary into the history of Barbie provides a fascinating deep dive into the toy's creation, its influence over the decades and the lawsuit between creator Ruth Handler and designer Jack Ryan over royalties. The latter of which spent millions on huge parties that make The Wolf of Wall Street look like Superbad. It's a rollercoaster, for sure.

Don't forget that we've got more of the best Max movies and best Netflix movies to browse – if your movie of choice releasing on July 12 is Oppenheimer, here's why Dunkirk is the perfect primer for it.

Matt Poskitt

Matt is a full-time freelance journalist who specializes in arts, culture and tech – be that movies, TV, video games, or otherwise. He's also turned his hand to everything from mattresses to motorbikes as a journalist. Prior to this, Matt headed up the games and entertainment section at T3.com, alongside being published across TechRadar, IGN, Tom's Guide, Fandom, NME, and more. In his spare time, Matt is an avid cinema-goer, keen runner and average golfer (at best). You can follow him @MattPoskitt64.