Kerry Parnell: Barbie sets off a chain reaction of big-budget toy movies


Barbie got down to business over the years; the versatile boss with the perfect blow-dry deserves a reboot. But an avalanche of toy-themed movies is on the way, writes Kerry Parnell.

Come on Barbie, let’s party – I can’t wait to see Margot Robbie’s new movie, where she goes plastic fantasy and takes on the world’s most famous doll.

This week we got our first look at the Aussie actor as Barbie in the movie of the same name. He co-stars with Ryan Gosling as Ken and other big names such as Will Ferrell, America Ferrera and Emerald Fennell. At the cinema next year, I’m already booking my tickets.

The film follows Barbie’s adventures after she’s kicked out of Barbie Land – presumably because she wasn’t boobalicious enough – and instead has to make her way in the real world. Before writing it as saccharine stuff, the live-action film is directed and co-written by Little Women’s Lady Bird and Greta Gerwig and her co-star Noah Baumbach, so promises sugar and spice.

I guess it will be a movie where Barbie gets badass and sends a message about being true to yourself; everyone is special; it’s what’s inside that counts and every other Instagram meme ever made, you know, while looking like Margot Robbie.

But whatever.

Hopefully, with super smart Gerwig behind it, this will avoid being another family movie that hammers its moral message into kids’ heads.

Note to children’s filmmakers – can we have more happy, heartwarming adventures and fewer tutorials? Serious movies can win awards, but *whisper* they’re kinda boring.
The biggest test of a successful family movie is how many times your kids ask to replay it at home. Until now, in our house, we kept not talking about Bruno, when we really never talked about Soul again.

Barbie is part of a new wave of films commissioned by Mattel. The brand must have had a productive brainstorm a few years ago where they took inventory of all the toys they still had in stock and decided to make a movie out of it with Warner Bros. Currently in production are the following – a Polly Pocket film, written by Lena Dunham and starring Emily In Paris’ Lily Collins; a Hot Wheels adventure produced by JJ Abrams’ Bad Robot; a film by Major Matt Mason with Tom Hanks; the highly publicized return of He-Man in Masters Of The Universe, now with Kyle Allen; a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots offering with Vin Diesel; movies based on Chatty Cathy and Betsy Wetsy and finally, a horror movie about the Magic 8 Ball. Betsy Wetsy sounds pretty scary to all moms, to be honest, but that’s another story.

You don’t need to spin the ball to predict what the results will be, with out-of-the-box merchandise, toys like Barbie are getting a boost for a new generation and Magic 8 Balls another spin on lists of Christmas.

And to be fair, you can’t say that Barbie hasn’t worked over the years. She’s the ultimate all-around girl boss of millennials. Not only has she had hundreds of careers, including pediatrician, zoologist, teacher, and firefighter, but she also finds time to run her own food truck. and recently announced that she is going to space.

And she does it all with a perfect blow-dry and a lost shoe. No wonder she’s ready for a reboot.

Rihanna lets women show off their baby bumps

Talk about turning up the volume – maternity clothes have disappeared from the dial.

How times have changed: It’s hard to believe it was considered shocking when pregnant Demi Moore posed nude for the cover of Vanity Fair in 1991. She made headlines around the world, was indecent and some US stores refused to stock this. It sounds ridiculous now, of course, but it was a seismic moment.

“I think we did a great thing for women with this coverage…it also freed women from feeling that pregnancy was something to cover up,” former editor Tina Brown told CNBC.

Fast-forward 31 years and every pregnant celebrity worthy of their baby booties has “done a Demi” and posed naked for a magazine cover, including Britney Spears, Cindy Crawford, Mariah Carey and Serena Williams.

And bare baby bumps aren’t just limited to the covers, as expectant celebs show off their growing bellies all over social media and the red carpet.

Annie Leibovitz, who took the original photos of Demi Moore, also photographed pregnant Rihanna for American Vogue this month, sporting a sheer red bodysuit on the cover.

Rihanna, who is expecting her first child very soon, has become gloriously goddess with her bump. No flowy maternity blouses for her everyday wear, but rather cutout dresses, sheer babydoll dresses, sequined bikinis and an abundance of belly jewelry. And she looks gorgeous.

“There’s no way I’m shopping in a maternity aisle,” she told Vogue.

“I’m sorry – it’s too much fun to dress up. I’m not going to let that part go away because my body is changing.

She said she wanted to empower other pregnant women to embrace their fulfilling bodies.

“I hope we were able to redefine what is considered ‘decent’ for pregnant women…because why should you hide your pregnancy?”

Why indeed. And Rihanna seems to be doing her job, as everyone from Sophie Turner to Britney to Victoria’s Secret model Adriana Lima is rocking gorgeous outfits. Ever since Beyonce broke the internet with her Venus/Nefertiti twin pregnancy announcement photos by Botticelli in 2017, maternity style has morphed from tents to tights and it’s filtered down to the high street. Topshop, Target and Kmart all offer bodycon maternity dresses and it’s now completely normal to show off your bare midriff in cropped tops and shorts or leggings.

It has not always been so. I love it – emphasize the positive, I say. This way, you can celebrate your body’s evolution through each stage of pregnancy and happily navigate through the minefield of motherhood of the past, with all of its unsolicited “wow, you look huge” comments.

I remember being five months pregnant with my first child and attending a black tie event, where a colleague said, “Oh, are you pregnant? You are in that period where everyone thinks you are fat. Thanks for that, nice to see you too.

If I had my time again, I’d step into this event in a fishnet, Rihanna-style bodysuit—at least it would have made them speechless.


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