“Life in plastic” finally looks fantastic, now that Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach will team up to co-write the long-gestating Barbie movie. Margot Robbie is still set to star in the title role, which has bounced around from Amy Schumer to Anne Hathaway, and changed hands between even more creative teams ranging from Jenny Bicks (Sex and the City) to Diablo Cody, and at one point, Patty Jenkins was eyed to direct. It’s been a real mess. Earlier this year, Forbes ran a story asking if Margot’s Barbie movie would ever get made. But now it’s ramping up and now I care.
According to The Wrap, the original synopsis for the Amy Schumer-starring Barbie involved a “fish out of water” doll story. So, basically, the premise was Elf, with more plastic and less daddy issues. Snooze. Making the project more confounding, Diablo Cody later told Screen Crush that when she was brought in to do a rewrite, she “failed so hard” and was “literally incapable of writing a Barbie script” due in part to her commitments on Tully. She couldn’t crack it, not unlike how Ben Affleck “couldn’t crack” Batman. Then, last October, the film swapped studios from Sony to Warner Bros. In January, Margot officially jumped on board as the star and producer, after Anne was attached for a little over a year. And now we’re here, with Greta possibly taking on directing duties too.
There’s something fun, fresh, and subversive about the duo behind Mistress America and Frances Ha giving a voice to an iconic toy and feminine fashion symbol. Melancholy Barbie? Self-deprecating Barbie? It’s a loaded character — as Sarah has written about before — but adding Greta and Noah to the mix seems like a playful reinvention, especially if Greta ends up directing.
Imagine Barbie joining the human world (if that’s indeed what happens), and talking like this:
Or saying: “I’m so embarrassed. I’m not a real person yet.”
Or gleefully engaging in pop culture dos and don’ts. Barbie Bird? Later this year, we’ll finally see Greta’s interpretation of Little Women. That also was something that many said was unadaptable, or a tough nut to crack, and yet we’re invested in Greta’s vision of the complexity of sisterhood and femininity. This IP can be more of a blank canvas in her hands, and a cultural minefield for thinkpieces, and perhaps this unexpected marriage will yield just the right sensibility for modernizing this ever-evolving doll beyond her superficial tastes.
The real question though: when will we learn Timothee Chalamet is our new Ken?