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Controversial Barbie to star in new live-action comedy

Published: Saturday, April 26 2014 3:41 p.m. MDT

In this Monday, July 16, 2012 photo, Barbie products are displayed at a local toy store in Hialeah, Fla.

Alan Diaz, Associated Press

By the end of this year, production will begin on a live-action film based around the popular and controversial doll, Barbie.

Deadline first reported that an agreement was made Wednesday between Sony and Mattel, the toy manufacturing company, after producers successfully pitched an idea for their version of a Barbie movie.

The toy company has resisted movie endeavors in the past, but Mattel and Sony have agreed to proceed with the "funny" and "unexpected" script written by Jenny Bicks, who also wrote "What a Girl Wants" and "Rio 2," and participated in "Sex and the City."

Producers include husband and wife Walter F. Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, who have produced "Men in Black," "Catch Me If You Can," "Just Like Heaven" and "Gladiator," among other films.

Deadline reported that rather than following storylines of previous animated Barbie films, the new production hopes to follow in the footsteps of other toy films.

"The key to turning these brands into successful films comes down to execution, as was particularly evident in the way that Warner Bros. turned 'The Lego Movie' into something with a high cool factor for kids. The plan for Barbie is also clever," Mike Fleming Jr. wrote for Deadline.

"Some of the doll’s appeal has been cool clothes and of course Ken, but beyond accessorizing, the toy has always been about female empowerment."

But since the announcement, many have taken the opportunity to explore hurdles that producers of the live-action film may face.

"If filmmakers try to remake a real person to look like Barbie, she will look too absurd for anyone to concentrate on the story," Case Western Reserve University's Renee Sentilles, a professor of women's history, told Yahoo.

The Barbie doll maintains a body structure that in real life translates to a 16-inch waist, 3.5 inch wrists and 6-inch ankles, according to Rehabs.com. Many have blamed the doll for perpetuating unrealistic expectations. Last year, artist Nickolay Lamm created her own version of Barbie, who represented the actual size of American women.

"Considering that Barbie, if she were human-sized, would have no room for a whole liver in her petite 16-inch waist — and would be so frail that she’d be unable to walk or lift her head — it’s likely Sony will be taking some creative liberties with the doll when it comes to casting her," Sonia Saraiya wrote for A.V. Club.

But for those who still love the plastic doll they grew up with, news of the movie is exciting. Rather than focusing on Barbie's size, Kelly D'Ambrosio asks readers to realize that the doll shouldn't be considered the problem.

"The first time I ever thought about Barbie’s proportions was when I was in college and adults started writing articles about it," D'Ambrosio wrote on her blog.

"The issue here isn’t Barbie, who lets girls use their imagination. The issue is that girls need more positive role models in their lives. Girls need parents who will help them develop a good self-esteem. Let’s step out of the dream house and take a look at our real life society."

While questions regarding the body type of Barbie haven't been addressed, Sony has focused on the plan to show Barbie in the many roles she has taken on throughout the years.

"The Barbie doll, launched in March 1959, has come in various looks over the decades, ranging from princess to president, mermaid to movie star. The studio plans to utilize many of these roles in the films," The Hollywood Reporter stated.

Email: spetersen@deseretnews.com | Twitter: @Sarah_DNews

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