Barbarella (1968)

Genres - Science Fiction  |   Sub-Genres - Fantasy Adventure, Satire, Space Adventure, Superhero Film  |   Run Time - 98 min.  |   Countries - France, Italy  |   MPAA Rating - PG
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A coy European sex comedy with space-opera trappings and an American accent, this frothy Roger Vadim/Jane Fonda collaboration reads like a grown-up, sci-fi update of Alice in Wonderland. Although it often pops up on "Worst Movies Ever" lists, it's actually something of a treat if one approaches it with the right attitude. From the eye-popping plasticity of the production design to the gentle grooviness of the Bob Crewe Generation's campy lounge soundtrack, Barbarella is a defiantly trivial film. But Fonda's studied vacuity, Anita Pallenberg's kinky glamour, and John Phillip Law's bronzed pecs and hippie truisms keep things sexy, sweet, and funny. Fonda has spent more than three decades trying to live down the zero-gee peep show that opens the film, but besides a few bare breasts and countless double entendres, nothing here crosses the line between erotic comedy and pornography. (In fact, the MPAA bizarrely let the film off with a mere PG.) The gender roles aren't particularly progressive, especially given the running gag about Barbarella getting her first few tastes of physical copulation after a lifetime of "advanced" virtual sex. But unless you're a humorless dogmatist, a puritan, or a holdover from the anti-"Hanoi Jane" school of patriotism, it's hard to be anything but amused and entertained by this campy classic.