Lena Dunham Departs Film, “Don’t Have That In Me”

BERLIN, GERMANY – FEBRUARY 17: Lena Dunham poses at the “Treasure” photocall during the 74th Berlinale International Film Festival Berlin at Grand Hyatt Hotel on February 17, 2024 in Berlin, Germany. (Photo by Stephane Cardinale – Corbis/Corbis via Getty Images)

Following on the (arched) heels of Greta Gerwig’s box-office sensation Barbie, Mattel’s planned live-action adaptation of their tiniest toy of all, Polly Pocket, has already encountered its first plot twist. Like the development hell that plagued bringing the saccharine and slightly existential film to the big screen, the untitled production has seemingly stalled with slated writer and director Lena Dunham no longer involved.

In an interview with The New Yorker released on July 9, 2024, Dunham shared her rationale for walking away from the silicon world of Tinkerbell-sized playthings.  “I feel like the next movie I make needs to feel like a movie that I absolutely have to make. No one but me could make it,” she said before adding she thought “other people could make ‘Polly Pocket’.”

The real-life Mattel executives—not the oafish rollerblading bigwigs played by Will Ferrell and his band of merry imbeciles in Barbie—operated under a high-risk, high-reward mentality when it came to the rose-coloured glass ceiling-shattering movie. Barbie defied expectations to become the biggest opening weekend ever for a movie directed by a woman and the biggest debut of the year with a USD$155 million return at the box office. 

Naturally, this put immense pressure on the next person stepping up to translate their plastic IP into a global cinematic and cultural phenomenon—especially as speculation surrounding a rumoured Barbie sequel (a film Oppenhiemer’s Cillian Murphy tongue-and-cheekily expressed interest in playing Ken) ramps up. 

And as Polly Pocket certainly doesn’t suffer the same ‘bimbo’ reputation as Barbie, and thus won’t have to overcome the same trials of defending itself against the patriarchy as Gerwig has, the film could certainly meet expectations if moulded by the right hands. Unfortunately for Dunham’s acolytes, this film just won’t come to fruition in hers.

With Lily Collins scheduled to helm the cast in the leading role and Dunham declaring her vision didn’t align with “what the world wants.”, keep scrolling ahead for everything we know about the Polly Pocket movie so far.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 30: Lena Dunham attends the “Once Upon A Time In Hollywood” UK Premiere at Odeon Luxe Leicester Square on July 30, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Mike Marsland/WireImage)
Will There Be A Polly Pocket Movie?

Short answer, yes. Long answer, in 2021, Mattel confirmed the production of a real-life Polly Pocket adaptation, with the news first reported by Variety. As per the publication, the Polly Pocket film is just one in a slew of toy-to-movie adaptations proposed by Mattel, with American Girl and Hot Wheels joining the cinematic toy universe. Of course, what of the film’s future now that Dunham has taken a step back (and the script she spent three years writing with her)?

Explaining her reasoning, Dunham revealed that she doesn’t have crafting a narrative so perfectly aligned with the culture and commercial needs “in her”. Read her full statement below:

“I’m not going to make the Polly Pocket movie. I wrote a script, and I was working on it for three years. But I remember someone once said to me about Nancy Meyers: the thing that’s the most amazing about her is that the movie she makes or the movie she would be making with or without a studio, with or without notes—that somehow her taste manages to intersect perfectly with what the world wants. What a f****** gift that is. And Nora Ephron, too, who was such a mentor to me, but always said, ‘Go be weird. Don’t kowtow to anyone.’ 

“And I think Greta [Gerwig] managed this incredible feat [with “Barbie”], which was to make this thing that was literally candy to so many different kinds of people and was perfectly and divinely Greta. And I just—I felt like, unless I can do it that way, I’m not going to do it. I don’t think I have that in me. I feel like the next movie I make needs to feel like a movie that I absolutely have to make. No one but me could make it. And I did think other people could make Polly Pocket.”

LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 12: Margot Robbie and Greta Gerwig attend the “Barbie” European Premiere at Cineworld Leicester Square on July 12, 2023 in London, England. (Photo by Gareth Cattermole/Getty Images)

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter soon after the news broke, a spokesperson for Mattel claimed the movie is in “active development” and the conglomerate still hopes the film will come to fruition. “We look forward to sharing updates on the project soon,” they added. Mattel also praised Dunham, calling the multi-hyphenate writer, director and actor a “remarkable writer and creator” and wish her all the best in future endeavours. 

The latter includes an upcoming romantic-comedy starring actress and comedian Megan Stalter about a thirtysomething American woman living abroad in London. Titled Too Much, the semi-autobiographical series will debut on Netflix in 2025. 

As the Polly Pocket adaption is set to appeal to late 90s and early 2000s babies who grew up preferring the miniature fashion doll compared to her bigger contemporary, the movie could certainly face the same success as the Margot Robbie-produced blockbuster. If the costume designer looks to LOEWE’s deliciously chewable doll-like dresses from the luxuriate’s Fall/Winter 2023 collection, that is.

PARIS, FRANCE – MARCH 03: A model walks the runway during the Loewe Womenswear Fall Winter 2023-2024 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on March 03, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by Pascal Le Segretain/Getty Images)
Who Is Cast In The Polly Pocket Movie?

Helming the project as the titular doll is none other than Emily In Paris’ Lily Collins. Though the brunette actress hasn’t divulged whether she’ll be sporting Polly Pocket’s signature blonde ponytails for the film, the 34-year-old took to Instagram to share a heartfelt message on what the casting means to her at the time of the announcement.

“Little Lil, big news. As a child who was obsessed with Polly Pockets, it’s a real dream come true to announce this project,” Collins captioned an Instagram post of herself as a toddler welding a pink Polly Pocket case.

“I am partnering with the most inspiring powerhouse team — Robbie Brenner, @lenadunham, @mattel and @mgmstudios — to reintroduce Polly to the world in a fun, modern way… bringing these tiny toys to the big screen,” she added.

“Truly so excited to be coming on as both a producer and Polly herself! Can’t wait to dive into this pastel world…”

Image via Instagram.com/LilyJCollins

As Collins alluded to  in her post, Dunham had originally praised the production and commended the symbolic return to this childhood material. .“Polly Pocket was responsible for countless hours of childhood escapism for me – Polly gave me a tiny world of magic and autonomy to narrate, so it’s pretty poetic to be tackling these same ideas now as a director collaborating with the brilliant Lily Collins, Robbie Brenner, Mattel and MGM,” Dunham explained in a statement in 2021. 

Of course, given the Polly Pocket film faced the same cast and creative changes as the initial Barbie film—if you’ll recall, Amy Schumer was originally attached to an original version of the project before dropping out, citing “creative differences” as the reason—could this be the mould all future tangible-product-to-film-adaption will adhere too?

Lily Collins is slated play Polly Pocket in the upcoming life-action adaptation (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
What Is The Polly Pocket Movie About?

Undoubtedly the question on everybody’s lips, especially those who have seen Gerwig’s subversive take on Barbie. According to Variety, the film’s official logline is as follows: “The film will centre on a young girl and a pocket-sized woman who form a friendship.” It’s not obvious if the plot will change once the new director and writer takes the reigns. 

Of course, this concept of bringing a doll and a human together is something we’ve already seen explored in Disney’s Life-Sized with Lindsay Lohan and Tyra Banks. But considering the project is coming from the same company that allowed Daniel Kaluuya to make an “A24-type”, “surrealistic” yet “not R-rated” version of Barney (Mattel owns the IP for the dinosaur), anything really could go. Here’s hoping Barbie’s feminist undertones remain a theme explored in all of Mattel’s doll-to-film movies.

When Will Polly Pocket Be Released?

Given that filming has not begun and the production is currently embroiled in creative overhaul, it’s likely we won’t hear any news about Polly Pocket until a contract is signed.

Until then, it’s given us more opportunity to rewatch Barbie, blast the film’s hyper-pop soundtrack and refresh ourselves with Polly Pocket’s source material. Now, if only Mattel were planning on making a life-sized version of Pollyworld from the 2006 animated film…

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