What kind of world is it where a senior executive for Mattel has to promise that its upcoming movie based on Barney the Dinosaur will “not be an odd movie”? The answer is, of course, the one we’re living in — which also happens to be one where fans of the purple cuddle-addicted dino have becoming increasingly worried that their favorite character is going to show up in a surreal arthouse flick.
In a new interview, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz admitted that, thanks to recent comments he’d made about the upcoming Barney movie — a movie that will star none other than Get Out and Nope star Daniel Kaluuya, somewhat surprisingly — the upcoming feature is “getting a lot of reaction.” He continued, “It’s too early to be specific, but I can tell you we are taking a fresh approach that will be fun, entertaining and culturally oriented. It will not be an odd movie.”
Why, you might ask yourself, would anyone think that it could be a weird movie in the first place? It’s a movie based on Barney the Dinosaur, after all; he’s a beloved icon of children’s television who’s been around for decades and whose innate weirdness has already been accepted and moved on from. Well, the root of that is Mattel Films executive Kevin McKeon, who in a profile of Mattel Films this summer, said about the project, “We’re leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids… It’s really a play for adults. Not that it’s R-rated, but it’ll focus on some of the trials and tribulations of being thirtysomething, growing up with Barney—just the level of disenchantment within the generation,” adding, “It would be so daring of us, and really underscore that we’re here to make art.”
While the movie that McKeon believes that he’s making sounds fascinating — who doesn’t want to see a Barney movie about the disenchantment of thirtysomethings, after all? — it’s easy to see just why Barney fans are needing just a little bit of reassurance.
What’s particularly exciting about Kreiz’s new comments, however, is that he’s not denying or undercutting McKeon’s description of the movie — simply saying that it will “not be… odd.” It raises the question, what exactly does Kreiz consider odd… and the follow-up question, what if all of Mattel’s movies are going to as much cultural commentary as they are about the characters at the center of them?
The Barney movie has no scheduled release so far, although with Beef creator Lee Sung Jin attached as writer, we can’t wait for it to arrive, “odd” or not.
I know what you’re thinking; you’re thinking that Barney can wait, you just want a Barbie sequel — but that’s a complicated topic.