From the beginning, the entire concept of a movie based on the Barbie doll was a little odd. While certainly seeing a feature film based on a popular brand was nothing new, the initial decision to cast Amy Schumer in the title role signaled that the movie was looking to be something other than what we might expect. While the project has gone through a lot of changes since then, and it now stars Margot Robbie in the title role, it looks like the movie is still going to be something very different, as it’s now been revealed that the script is being handled by the team of Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach.
Needless to say, these scriptwriters are not the first ones we’d think of when contemplating a Barbie movie, but Variety reports it’s a done deal.. Gerwig and Baumbach are more known for creating character driven dramas with a thread of high concept comedy running through them. The word “twee” gets thrown around a lot when discussing films like Boambach’s The Squid and the Whale or Greta Gerwig’s recent Oscar contender Lady Bird.
These are movies that tend to be considered strong awards contenders but rarely find themselves at the top of the box office. That’s not to say that the pair has never been part of more mainstream fair, Noah Baumbach did co-write the script for Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted, so there’s that.
Still this choice of writing team will either mean we’ll see a very different movie from Gerwig and Baumbach than we’re used to getting, or we’re going to get a very different Barbie movie than we were expecting.
This latter idea isn’t entirely out of the question. When the Barbie movie was first conceived, Amy Schumer was attached to star in the project. She was going to play an “imperfect” Barbie doll who did not fit in with the other Barbies and left to find her own way. After Schumer was forced to drop out, Anne Hathaway was attached to star, indicating a change in direction for the project.
Then the film saw a major delay. Originally, it was set to be in theaters last year. The movie moved from Sony to Warner Bros. and Mattel, the toy company who created the doll, started its own film division so it could also produce the feature. It was at this point that Margot Robbie was brought on board to play Barbie.
One has to assume that the writer and director of Lady Bird and the forthcoming Little Women is going to have a unique take on a Barbie movie. It certainly fires up the imagination and gets me much more interested in the movie than I had been since Amy Schumer was involved.
Currently Barbie has a May 2020 release date, but if the script is just getting underway it seems impossible for the film to make that release date. Expect to see this one get pushed back in short order, perhaps to a holiday 2020 release but more likely something in the summer of 2021.