There have been some peculiar brands-turned film adaptations (board game movies, toy-based features) put into motion over the past few years. However, as evidenced by the critical/commercial success of The LEGO Movie, such projects live or die based on the talent involved and what they make of the basic concept. This brings us to today's topic of Sony Pictures, Mattel, and Parkes+MacDonald/Image Nation developing a live-action Barbie movie comedy.
Mattel has released several Barbie animated features direct-to-home in the past, but a live-action film adaptation has been slower to progress forward. The current iteration was pitched to Sony by producers Laurie MacDonald and Walter F. Parkes (the Men in Black franchise) and it reportedly positions Barbie as being a Mary Poppins-style protagonist who often improves the lives of those around her - including (literal?) boy toy Ken. As of right now, though, a director has yet to be attached.
Barbie's initial script draft was penned by Jenny Bicks, who previously wrote several episodes for such mature-audience cable TV shows as Sex and the City and The Big C (each anchored by women as the protagonists), but also worked on last year's kid-friendly animated sequel Rio 2. Deadline is reporting that screenplay is now getting a rewrite by the Oscar-winner Diablo Cody; who, as far as her professional screenwriting career goes, is a stranger to the world of mainstream family-friendly fare.
Parkes, however, believes that Cody is perfect for the job for that reason. Here is the quote from him:
“Diablo’s unconventionality is just what Barbie needs. It signals we’re going for a legitimately contemporary tone. We’re bringing her on because she had great ideas, but even more importantly, she truly loves Barbie.”
Cody, of course, is (in)famous for the many quirky quips included in her Juno script, though her scripts for the films Jennifer's Body and Young Adult in particular have a darkly comedic and satirical bent to them - and Cody's TV series United States of Tara was very much geared towards an adult audience too. For those reasons, though, she could be a perfect fit to work on the script for a Barbie live-action film; bringing a sanitized version of that same wit that's appropriate for children, yet at the same time effectively cheeky in its approach to the Barbie intellectual property.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller managed a similar task when they transited from the R-Rated 21 Jump Street to the PG-Rated (but equally self-ridiculing) LEGO Movie - and back to 22 Jump Street thereafter. That is the exception to the rule of Hollywood adaptations of lucrative multi-platform properties, but who knows - maybe the talent working on Barbie will lead it to become another such exception. Alternatively, an "edgy" and "hip" Barbie movie could be quite entertaining (if for all the wrong reasons).
We'll bring you more information on the Barbie live-action movie when we have it.