Despite Transformers and GI Joe, Hollywood is not done mining our childhood memories: Universal has acquired the rights to make a live-action movie based on Barbie. Details are sketchy, but here's what could happen:
It could be horrifying.
Remember the insane Lindsay Lohan/Tyra Banks Disney movie, Life Size? Lindsay played a girl who accidentally brought her Barbie-ish doll to life while trying to resurrect her mother. Tyra's performance as Eve was pretty painful. The story — a "classic overachiever" acting as a mother figure; the lesson that you don't have to be perfect all the time — was okay, but not worth repeating. (And it's probably best to leave out any music.) And let's get honest here: Barbie was, from her inception, designed as an aspirational/inspirational toy: the very first commercial was about encouraging little girls to long to be beautiful, have lots of accessories and lots of clothes. At the time, she was different, a breakthrough doll, since little girls usually played with baby dolls — not dolls made to look like adults. Her preposterous physique has been much discussed; one study suggested that if Barbie were a real woman, she would be five-foot-nine, have measurements of 36-18-33, and lack the body fat needed to menstruate. Her "All-American" look — long blonde hair and blue eyes — was actually based on a German doll named Lilli; and when held up as a standard of beauty leaves most people out; blonde hair is actually extremely rare — many sources say that only 1.8% of the world's population is naturally blonde. Plus, Barbie's message of femininity focuses on being pretty and getting dressed. We've had enough of that.
It could be awesome.
Barbie has evolved throughout the last 50 years: Though she was first marketed as being a "Teen-age Fashion Model," Barbie has been an astronaut, a ballerina, a tennis star, a pilot, a firefighter, a chef and a presidential candidate. While she may not be focused, Barbie certainly sends the message that a woman can do anything. Or at least pretend to. If the screenwriters could manage to make Barbie some kind of amazing, confident, not-annoying superachiever — who can rope a calf, whip up lobster thermidor, kick a winning soccer goal and speak 8 languages — that could be a really fun flick. Especially since she runs around with a multi-ethnic cast of friends. And when it comes to Ken, Barbie could take him or leave him; her life may be full of tiny chewable shoes, but she's never needed a man to make her who she is. Other ideas: Or Barbie could be an actress. Or a spy! And just fake her many professions. Either way, she could be a bold, independent adventurer: A character girls — and women — could look up to.
Or, you know, the filmmakers could end up with this:
And FYI, guys: Columbia Pictures has entered into negotiations to pick up He-Man, another Mattel property. So cue male body-dysmorphic order inciting storylines in 3…2…