A plush Barney the dinosaur

Every Detail That Comes Out About the ‘Barney’ Movie Makes Me Understand It Less

First, Daniel Kaluuya’s Barney movie was announced, and we were all surprised and bewildered. Then, we learned who would star and what the movie would be about, and we were even more surprised. Now, somehow, Mattel’s CEO is saying the film won’t be odd—but we’re having trouble believing him.

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In an interview with Semafor, Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz said that they were taking “a fresh approach” to the Barney film and that it wouldn’t be “odd.” I’m sorry—a movie about a purple dinosaur who can talk and who sings about love and kindness with the creepiest smile you’ve ever seen, not being odd? Especially when it’s supposed to feature “millennial angst?” Yes, makes total sense.

Kreiz’s exact words were: “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.”

The film was first announced back in 2019, and soon after, Get Out and Spider-Man: Across the Universe star Daniel Kaluuya became attached to the project as a producer. Following in the footsteps of the record-breaking Barbie movie, Mattel’s upcoming live-action venture is set to be “A24-style” and made for those who grew up with the purple dinosaur when he was in his prime—also known as “thirtysomethings.” It won’t be R-rated.

The film’s executive producer, Kevin McKeon, told The New Yorker, “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.”

After the Barney movie was announced, Kaluuya said: “Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood. 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.” Amazing.

Robert Brenner, who is part of Mattel Films said that the new movie would “surprise audiences.” He also said: “Working with Daniel Kaluuya will enable us to take a completely new approach to Barney that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations. The project will speak to the nostalgia of the brand in a way that will resonate with adults, while entertaining today’s kids.”

Sure, all of that sounds … interesting enough, but what does it all mean? Do we really need a philosophical exploration of a giant purple dinosaur? Can a movie like this ever not be “odd?” Given everything we know and understand about the film—which isn’t much, admittedly, as everything that’s been said so far is strangely contradictory—we’re having trouble figuring out what to expect. Then again, that’s probably the point.

After Barbie did so well, Mattel isn’t about to let any of their other franchises rest, and the company has plenty more projects lined up, including movies based on Hot Wheels, UNO, and Polly Pocket. There are currently a whopping 45 movies set to be made in partnership with MGM, though we only know what 17 of them will actually be about. Barney is just the tip of the iceberg.

(featured image: James Keyser/Getty Images)


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Author
Brooke Pollock
Brooke Pollock is a UK-based entertainment journalist who talks incessantly about her thoughts on pop culture. She can often be found with her headphones on listening to an array of music, scrolling through social media, at the cinema with a large popcorn, or laying in bed as she binges the latest TV releases. She has almost a year of experience and her core beat is digital culture.