Daniel Kaluuya-Led ‘Barney’ Movie to Rip Off ‘Death to Smoochy’

Daniel Kaluuya-Led ‘Barney’ Movie to Rip Off ‘Death to Smoochy’

It’s hard to determine exactly who invented the idea of taking a character beloved by children and putting them in a dark, angsty story for jaded adults. All we know is that, when it comes to Barney the Purple Dinosaur, Danny DeVito did it first.

The highly anticipated Mattel film Barbie doesn’t debut for another two weeks, but the past six months of hysterical hype over the Margot Robbie-led Greta Gerwig effort inspired the toy-turned-film company to release an update on another adult-targeted adaptation of a decidedly child-focused property: Mattel Films’ next project will be an “A24-type,” angsty adaptation of Barney & Friends starring Get Out’s Daniel Kaluuya. Mattel Films VP Kevin McKeon told Deadline that the Barney movie will be “surrealistic” in the vein of the arty styles of directors Charlie Kaufman and Spike Jonze, saying, “We’re leaning into the millennial angst of the property rather than fine-tuning this for kids.”

“It’s really a play for adults,” McKeon claimed, adding, “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.” An angsty, disenchanted take on Barney sounds suspiciously familiar, almost like DeVito and Robin Williams already aced the assignment two decades before Mattel even picked up the pencil.

Death to Smoochy star Edward Norton has gone on record saying that the film is his most underrated film project to date, and the DeVito-directed 2002 black comedy about a disgraced children’s entertainer embroiled in the world of organized crime conspiring to assassinate a big purple rhinoceros has a cult following that cannot be convinced that McKeon was the first guy to wonder, “What if Barney but cynical?”

Almost immediately after Mattel announced Bitter Barney: The Movie, fans of Death to Smoochy film flooded Twitter to remind everyone that we already have a disenchanted Barney movie at home — and this one has Jon Stewart’s most absurd haircut to date.

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