“I love you, you love me, we’re a great big family. With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you, won’t you say you love me too?” That sh*t is burned several layers deep into my soul, and I never even watched Barney and Friends. It’s that kind of inescapable millennial instant recall that has Mattel looking to dust off the friendly and utterly benign purple dinosaur from our collective childhoods with a message of love and unity that doesn’t quite match these “Community-Troy-Pizza-Fire.gif” times.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the toy company (who is also working on films inspired by Hot Wheels and Barbie, but not Boglins… because cowardice) is going to team with Get Out and Queen And Slim lead Daniel Kaluuya, who is producing. Other people are also producing, but they weren’t in Black Panther and one of the better episodes of Black Mirror, so we’re skipping ahead.
Obviously, seeing Kaluuya attached makes this a little more interesting since he carries a track record as someone who aligns with unique and grown-up projects. It’s probably why we’re writing about it since Barney isn’t exactly big in the culture right now. But how is this partnership going to play out and what will this film even be? Scan this pull quote for clues along with me now:
“Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood,” said Kaluuya. “We’re excited to explore this compelling modern-day hero and see if his message of ‘I love you, you love me’ can stand the test of time.”
Okay. Terms like “disappeared into the shadows” and “left misunderstood” make me feel like SNL‘s gritty Oscar The Grouch Joker spoof is a lot closer to becoming a reality than maybe we thought possible. Like, maybe gird yourself emotionally to hear a slowed down and creepy rendition of “I Love You, You Love Me” in the trailer as the camera pans over a battered and forgotten Barney costume in a dank basement apartment with the words “Baby Bop!” scrawled on the walls? And, in a way, wouldn’t something a little contrary to the existing IP’s soul make some sense? Not, you know, a horror film on par with how The Banana Splits got brought back to life, but something.
The Barbie film has Margot Robbie teaming with Noah Baumbach. One imagines talent like that (and talent like Kaluuya) don’t sign up to carve a linear path to a nostalgia-fueled payday. Something interesting has to be brewing, right? I want to believe! But then Robbie Brenner from Mattel Films feeds THR a dollop of info about how “the project will speak to the nostalgia of the brand in a way that will resonate with adults, while entertaining today’s kids,” and it sounds more like this might wind up being an all-ages romp. Which would be a totally understandable and lucrative way to go about restarting a shuttered pop culture phenomenon. It just might not be as much fun for those of us who remember Barney’s aforementioned ubiquity more than we recall any personal affection for the character.
(Via The Hollywood Reporter)