‘Barbie’ Has Inspired Movies on Barney, He-Man and Polly Pocket

While the team at Mattel is busy decking the halls with Pantone pink, the Greta Gerwig-directed Barbie movie has inspired a running list of all things Barbie. From pool floaties to electric yellow Impala roller skates to shimmering makeup palettes, the forthcoming film has reinvigorated the company’s thirst for made-for-movie toy collabs.

In a recent interview with the New Yorker, executive Kevin McKeon revealed that a film on Barney, the purple dinosaur, is on its way. Daniel Kaluuya is slated to produce the movie, which McKeon described as an “A24-type” made for adults.

“We’re leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids,” said the exec, who compared the film to work by Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze. “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 thirty-something, growing up with Barney—just the level of disenchantment within the generation.”

He-Man and Polly Pocket are among thirteen other films that have been announced, per the New Yorker, while 45 more projects are in development. Tom Hanks is reportedly set to star in Major Matt Mason, the inspiration behind Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear based on the action figure first introduced in the Sixties.

In 2020, Kaluuya spoke with Entertainment Weekly and discussed the more “heartbreaking” aspects of the Barney narrative.

“Barney taught us, ‘I love you, you love me. Won’t you say you love me too?’ That’s one of the first songs I remember, and what happens when that isn’t true?,” he told the outlet. “I thought that was really heartbreaking. I have no idea why but it feels like that makes sense. It feels like there’s something unexpected that can be poignant but optimistic. Especially at this time now, I think that’s really, really needed.”

A similar theme runs through Barbie, as Gerwig previously told Rolling Stone, she thinks of the film “as humanist above anything else.”


“How Barbie operates in Barbieland is she’s entirely continuous with her environment. Even the houses have no walls, because you never need to hide because there’s nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed of,” she said. “And suddenly finding yourself in the real world and wishing you could hide, that’s the essence of being human.”

Barbie is out July 21. And while it might be too early to tell if Barney will inspire a lilac Gap collection, or if we’ll see Polly Pocket get her own life-sized dream house, one thing is certain: The market for nostalgia is stronger than ever.