Get ready, millennials, Barney will reportedly be just as disillusioned as the rest of us in the upcoming "Barney" movie from Mattel and "Get Out" star Daniel Kaluuya. In a wide-ranging The New Yorker report on 2 July, Mattel Films executive Kevin McKeon shared new details about the purple dinosaur's big screen adventure, which is still a work in progress several years after its announcement in 2019. According to McKeon, the movie is set to be a "surrealistic" and "A24-type" film (think recent best picture winner "Everything Everywhere All at Once").
"We're leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids," McKeon said. "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."
That's certainly a departure from the original "Barney & Friends" TV show's classic "I love you, you love me..." philosophy. However, this isn't the first time that the creatives behind the film have hinted that it's not designed to be your typical children's movie. In a 2020 interview with Entertainment Weekly, Kaluuya said he planned to tap into the "heartbreaking" side of Barney's story.
He explained, "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? 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."
Variety first announced Mattel Films and Kaluuya were teaming up to produce a live-action "Barney & Friends" movie in 2019. "Barney was a ubiquitous figure in many of our childhoods, then he disappeared into the shadows, left misunderstood," Kaluuya said in a statement at the time. "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."
"Barney & Friends" originally aired from 1992 to 2009, and the show featured an imaginary, talking tyrannosaurus rex that used song and dance to teach young children important life lessons. Kaluuya will produce the new version of the project through his production company, 59%. "Working with Daniel Kaluuya will enable us to take a completely new approach to Barney that will surprise audiences and subvert expectations," Mattel's Robbie Brenner said. "The project will speak to the nostalgia of the brand in a way that will resonate with adults, while entertaining today's kids."