Sony seems to be plagued with issues when it comes to its long-gestating live-action Barbie movie. Back in 2015, it was announced that the original script (penned by Jenny Bicks) would be getting a re-write from Oscar-winner Diablo Cody. Then, later that same year, three new writers were brought in to take a stab at a script, with Bert Royal, Hilary Winston, and Lindsey Beer reportedly working on the film. One of those scripts must have worked out, because at the end of last year, it seemed that the movie was finally starting to gather steam: a release date was locked down, and Amy Schumer was cast to star as Barbie.
Now, however, Schumer has announced that she will no longer be playing the titular role, due to ‘scheduling conflicts’, leaving the project without a star, and with its release date just over a year away. We’d hate to see the live-action Barbie put on hold yet again, so we’re wondering who might be right to fill Schumer’s pink, plastic shoes for this film, and there’s one name that leaps to mind.
Who Is Mindy Kaling?
Kaling got her big break on The Office, as Kelly Kapoor, the bubbly, girly, customer service rep who just wants to get married and have babies. What many don’t realize, however, is that she wrote for The Office as well as starring in the show. The Mindy Project, her current series, is also created, written and executive produced by Kaling, proving that she just as capable behind the scenes as on camera.
In addition, this talented writer and comedian has penned a play (Matt & Ben) and three humorous memoirs: ‘Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me’, ‘Questions I Ask When I Want to Talk about Myself: 50 Topics to Share with Friends’ and ‘Why Not Me’. Just like her writing on the shows she works on, these books are light and cheerful, but filled with self-effacing humor and openness about her own vulnerabilities. An award-winning actress, talented author, capable producer, and accomplished comedian, Kaling has recently been turning her talents to the big screen, and it’s time she got a starring role.
The Barbie Project
As well as being perfectly placed to grab a starring role in a new movie (or even a franchise), a new kind of Barbie movie would be an ideal fit for both Kaling’s personal brand, and what Mattel wants to do with the project. From the previous screenwriters and the casting of Schumer herself, we can deduce that Sony is trying to do something lighthearted and fun, but potentially adult-oriented and with a feminist bent. This is unlikely to be entirely a kid’s comedy.
Kaling has the bubbly Barbie character down pat. In both The Office and The Mindy Project, Kaling plays a woman who has no problem getting in touch with her colorful, feminine side. Her characters love clothes, and dating, and gossip, and have a kindness and an energy that we associate with the character of Barbie. However, she’s not just a superficial girly girl. Especially in The Mindy Project, her character has depth and intelligence, and her capable side balances her flippant femininity perfectly. This would translate wonderfully to a live-action Barbie movie, allowing her to parlay these experiences into a new bubbly party girl who is also smart, successful, and down to Earth. It’s a tall order, but if anyone has the chops to pull it off, it’s Kaling.
Why Not Her?
Casting Barbie is not an easy job. The toy has always come with her fair share of criticism, and it’s a lot of baggage to try and cope with in a live-action movie. One of the biggest criticisms to dog Barbie over the years has been her unrealistic appearance – not only is she tall, thin, blonde and blue-eyed, but she has a figure that is literally anatomically impossible. This comes with its own problems in terms of live-action: cast a tall, thin, blonde, white woman, and the film will be criticized for playing into the kind of unattainable standards for female beauty that the doll has been accused of standing for; cast someone who is not tall, blonde, thin and white, however, and the film will be criticized for not casting an actress who “looks like Barbie”.
We even saw this with Schumer – despite being a tall, blonde, white woman, Schumer has been vocal about having curves, and there was some immediate backlash about this when her casting was announced. Putting Kaling in the role (who is not tall, skinny, blonde OR white) would be sure to raise a storm from Barbie purists. However, there are plenty of Barbie dolls with different skin tones, hair colors, and now even shapes and sizes. Casting Kaling would be a good way to make the point that Barbie is no longer all about the blonde bimbo that we associate with the name. It would also be the perfect chance to do something a little bit different, and challenge ideas of what a sexy, girly girl has to be.
A Bright Future For Barbie
Whoever steps up to replace Schumer as Barbie, we’re just hoping that Sony decides to do something a little bit different with the film. Mindy Kaling would be a fantastic choice, and we believe that this is the kind of twist on a classic idea of the ‘fun, flirty, female’ that would be right up her street. However, there are any number of talented and capable comedians who would be able to put their own spin on the character.
We’re just hoping that this latest set-back doesn’t put the Barbie movie back in development hell. This has the potential to be a really interesting part of the nostalgia trend, and if done right, could even surprise fans by saying something important through all that pink.
Barbie is scheduled to reach theaters on June 29th, 2018.