There is no joke that has not already been made about Barney the Dinosaur; as a ubiquitous figure in children’s entertainment in the 1990s and 2000s—one with very little obvious interest in not being an endless irritant to the parents exposed to his low-attention-span-targeted schtick—the cheerful purple T-Rex has had just about every indignity imaginable rained down on his spot at the top of the kids show food chain. Parody songs. Violent images. Jokes about his non-existent sexuality. A lawsuit versus The San Diego Chicken. (The Chicken proceeded to dub him both “insipid and corny,” by the way.) So many videos in which his dolls and merchandise are consumed by fire. Weaponization by the U.S. government.
People fucking hate Barney, and more, they like hating Barney. It’s soothing.
But not Daniel Kaluuya. Having already faced off against both creepy white people and a pissed-off Danai Gurira, Kaluuya has apparently set himself up to contend with perhaps the most passionate threat of all: Barney haters. Which is to say, Kaluuya’s production company is moving forward (with Mattel) on plans for some kind of film project about the allegedly lovable dinosaur.
This is per Variety, which has an absolute doozy of a quote from Kaluuya, whose 59% production company is partnering with Valparaiso Pictures on the movie:
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.
(If anyone can parse out exactly what level of irony Kaluuya is operating on in the above paragraph, please, write in and claim your No-Prize.)
Mattel Films has been making a major push toward some kind of mainstream recognition in recent months, having put a hefty amount of capital behind projects like the Barbie movie and a new Masters Of The Universe film. The studio is pitching this Barney movie as one of those “it’s for kids and nostalgic adults!” things, even though one of the distinguishing features of the Barney & Friends universe is that even the nostalgia is tinged with a certain level of contempt or disdain. Can an entire multi-million dollar film project operate on hate alone? One studio (and one well-regarded actor/producer) is going to find out!