Lena Dunham with Polly Pocket logo to her left

Fred Duval/Shutterstock Netflix/Polly Pocket (Licensed) Remix by Caterina Cox

People already hate Lena Dunham’s ‘Polly Pocket’ and Mattel’s other ‘Barbie’ follow-up movies

Film fans are saying Hollywood learned the wrong lesson from 'Barbie' after Mattel announced a slate of toy-inspired movies.


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw

Internet Culture

Posted on Jul 27, 2023

Ahead of Barbie‘s release, Mattel announced a raft of toy-inspired movies ranging from an “emotional, grounded” Hot Wheels adaptation (J.J. Abrams) to a surreal, “A24-type” Barney the Dinosaur (Daniel Kaluuya).

Despite Barbie‘s success, however, these ideas are not getting a positive reception. A lot of people see Barbie as a unique phenomenon, while the prospect of a Mattel multiverse just sounds exhausting.

As information about the Mattel franchise spread on Twitter/X this week, commenters mocked the idea of “serious” toy movies (“a gritty Mr. Potato Head origin story set against the backdrop of the Irish Famine”) and hailed it as a vacuous form of filmmaking. (“we’ve collectively meme’d another vapid corporate cinematic universe into existence.”)

The general consensus is that nobody asked for this, and Hollywood learned the wrong lesson from Barbie.

Right now the most widely-derided target is Polly Pocket, directed by Lena Dunham and starring Lily Collins. Dunham is always a controversial figure, which doesn’t help. But as an overall concept, this movie already sounds like a parody of someone trying to replicate Barbie‘s success.

Dunham, like Gerwig, is an acclaimed female filmmaker with mainstream cachet. Meanwhile, Polly Pocket is recognizable but clearly not as iconic as Barbie, and Lily Collins (unlike the Oscar-nominated Margot Robbie) is best known for the so-bad-it’s-good Netflix series Emily in Paris.

This whole idea has unmistakeable knockoff vibes.

Some commenters are seeing a silver lining, however, predicting that projects like Polly Pocket will probably flop. Mattel can certainly try to make its toy franchise happen, but audiences won’t necessarily play along.

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*First Published: Jul 27, 2023, 9:34 am CDT