Daniel Kaluuya wears sunglasses and shrugs

Sorry Mattel, but Daniel Kaluuya’s ‘Barney’ Movie Needs to Be Odd

The age of Mattel Films is fast approaching, and that would be a sizably dystopian statement in any other context outside of a world where Greta Gerwig’s Barbie exists. Indeed, if the game plan involves letting some of cinema’s finest talent run wild using one of Mattel’s toys as a blueprint, sign me right up.

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Among the most notable features on deck are the J.J. Abrams-helmed Hot Wheels film, the Vin Diesel-led Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots movie, and the Daniel Kaluuya-produced Barney movie, which, up until now, sounded like the one to challenge Barbie as the crown jewel for Mattel Films.

In the past, the upcoming Barney film has been described as “A24-like” and targeted towards adults via a surrealist narrative that explores millennial angst; toss in the fact that Kaluuya is undoubtedly one of the real deals of Hollywood, and it sounds like Mattel has a Barbie-caliber maverick on its hands.

So what on Earth possessed Mattel CEO Ynon Kreiz to promise us—after all we’ve learned about the Barney movie so far—that it isn’t going to be “odd” in a recent interview with Semafor?

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.

I’m going to level with you here, Ynon: Barney quite literally needs to be odd, and I think you should be slightly embarrassed for implying that “odd” is a dirty word. Was the fascism joke in Barbie not delightfully offbeat? Were the parts of Barbie‘s script that were very clearly written by Noah Baumbach not tantalizingly strange? No, also no, and the movie made well over a billion dollars.

Beyond that, Barney is a character who was memed to oblivion since before memes were even on anyone’s radar; how many depraved parodies of the Barney theme song have been dreamed up by the youth of yesterday, and how much vindication do you think they felt after catching wind of the Barney documentary, which showed off the dark side of the beloved children’s show? Indeed, at this point, there’s an unavoidable twistedness surrounding Barney in the pop culture zeitgeist, and not playing into that would be the creative equivalent of sticking a toothpick under your toenail and punting a brick wall.

So quit it, Ynon. Quit offering stuffy answers (“fun, entertaining, and culturally oriented”? Really?) and being afraid of the odd, and give your blessing to what I hope to hope itself will be an absolute mind-warp of a Barney movie. In Kaluuya we trust.

(featured image: Karwai Tang, WireImage)


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Author
Charlotte Simmons
Charlotte is a freelance writer at The Mary Sue and We Got This Covered. She's been writing professionally since 2018 (a year before she completed her English and Journalism degrees at St. Thomas University), and is likely to exert herself if given the chance to write about film or video games.