Barney's Great Adventure
Barney's Great Adventure (also known by its promotional title Barney's Great Adventure: The Movie) is a 1998 American-Canadian musical comedy adventure film based on the children's television series Barney & Friends, featuring Barney the Dinosaur in his first-ever feature-length film. The film was written by Stephen White, directed by Steve Gomer, produced by Sheryl Leach and Lyrick Studios, and released by PolyGram Filmed Entertainment on March 27, 1998 in the United States and Canada at the height of Barney's popularity.
Cody (Trevor Morgan), his sister Abby (Diana Rice), their best friend Marcella (Kyla Pratt), and their baby brother Fig are dropped off by their parents for a visit at their grandparents' farm. As Cody is believing that there may be nothing to do at the farm, Abby and Marcella rub a Barney doll in his face. Cody loses his patience and starts a game of "keep-away" by taking the Barney doll and running off with it. The two girls go after Cody, who hides the Barney doll in the shower in the bathroom.
The girls catch up with Cody, who tells them to use their imagination and laughs when he thinks that nothing happened. However, the doll comes to life as Barney the Dinosaur takes the girls to play in the barn. Cody refuses to believe in Barney at first, claiming that imagination is just for kids and that real dinosaurs neither talk, nor laugh. That night, Cody takes advice from Barney and wishes for a real adventure for that summer, and to do something no one has ever done before.
A shooting star deposits a large colorful egg in the barn which Cody discovers in the morning. Barney and the kids go to tell the grandparents about this, but Barney is distracted by Fig's crying. Grandma suggests to Abby and Marcella that they go see Mrs. Goldfinch. Cody finds Barney who has just changed Fig's wet diaper and takes him to see his grandparents. However, Abby and Marcella take Cody and Barney to see Mrs. Goldfinch, who tells them that the egg is a dream maker. Cody accidentally knocks the egg off the table which lands on a birdseed truck.
Barney and the others try to recover it through a parade as the egg narrowly avoids being stomped or cracked by the parade's participants as the egg's five colors begin to reveal themselves, one color at a time. Barney's friend B.J. catches it when it almost lands on the ground, but accidentally tosses it away. Barney and the gang chase the egg throughout a French restaurant, a circus, and fly through the sky on an airplane to continue their pursuit of the egg which is in a hot air balloon. All the while, Baby Bop is looking for her small, yellow blanket, and B.J. and Baby Bop arrive just in time to see the egg hatch. After they return the egg to the barn, it finally hatches into a koala-like being named Twinken by Baby Bop who shows everyone Abby's dream and then Barney's.
Cody apologizes to Barney for being mean and admits that he thinks he's cool. Barney accepts his apology and tells Cody that he thinks he's cool too and the two share a hug. Twinken shows everyone a magical fireworks display that lands in Barney's arms. Barney begins to sing "I Love You", and everyone else sings with him. Baby Bop gets sleepy, which prompts B.J. to decide that they are ready to go home. The film ends with Twinken sitting right next to Barney, who has reverted to his doll form.
Why It's Not a Great Adventure
- Extremely weak, lazy, clichéd and a poorly written plot that's been used in numerous better films with lots of filler moments, as mentioned below.
- Tiresome and extremely bland supporting characters, such as Abby and even Barney himself.
- Barney's character itself feels flanderized and toned down compared to the TV Show and Video Series (pre-Season 9), showing mostly only his happy side rather than his caring side and intelligence he had in the TV show. In fact, this was an early indication that the show was beginning to decline in quality.
- Baby Bop is also flanderized though it's not as severe as Barney.
- Speaking of which, B.J. and Baby Bop barely get any screen time despite being a bit more tolerable.
- The movie itself only involves Barney and the children try to find an egg and need to get it back before it hatches, yet most of the movie boils down to 76 minutes of pure filler, with practically nothing going on during the movie. The plot itself also suffers from being fairly boring thanks to the fact that there is only weak humor compared to any real character development or interesting concepts.
- Bad acting that makes the actors look like they've been picked off the street.
- The film itself was only completed in a month, resulting in it being rushed.
- No real or clear villain, despite the film being meant for kids. And while media without an antagonist have worked before, the fact that the actual plot for this movie is so weak and lazy makes the fact that there's no villain give the story absolutely no stakes whatsoever on top of that.
- The costume designs are so bad that there is even a scene where you can actually see a bit of Baby Bop's skin fall off (which for some reason they kept in), not to mention Barney's blinking mechanism glitching at times.
- Horrible CGI animation and visual effects for the wooden airplane scene. It's so ridiculously unconvincing and obviously fake that it's almost laughable.
- Unfunny and weak humor, especially when the girls try to imagine Barney when Cody hid the Barney Doll.
- Dreadful, horrible and annoying soundtrack, particularly with the Barney theme.
- Speaking of the soundtrack, the musical numbers, such as Imagine, are laughable and serve no purpose.
- Awful voice acting, especially from Barney the Dinosaur himself. At one point, Barney's voice cuts off before he's finished speaking. Not to mention how he sounds even more ridiculously happy and endlessly unrealistically joyful than usual. And given how that's his normal style of talking, even in the TV show (one of the major flaws of the original Barney & Friends series), that's certainly saying a lot.
- Twinken, despite what the movie constantly tells it's audience and wants them to believe, isn't even that cute and cuddly at all. They could have designed him better. He looks like an old, fuzzy white koala with sad, droopy eyes. That's it, nothing else at all. What's even worse is that the merchandise based on the movie makes him look even cuter. To add insult to injury, he is never heard from again after this movie. Not even in the TV show. Hell, not even in a single home video.
- Some plot lines can be seen as kind of rushed, as the whole plot is all about an egg that hatches a creature who visualizes your dreams. That's all it does, making the whole movie and egg search pointless. You can visualize your dreams easily in your imagination, so there's no need for some strange creature to do it for you.
- Pointless moments, such as a running gag involving Baby Bop looking for her blanket, which is nothing but filler
- On some fullscreen versions (especially Hebrew), some scenes contain a boom microphone at the very top, even at the end! (if one looks closely).
- Misleading title: Despite being called Barney's Great Adventure, the first half of the movie mostly focuses on the kids rather than Barney himself and his pals.
- On the topic of the title, it sounds questionable.
- There's a scene where Cody steps in cow poop, which is very gross and unfunny.
- Cody, Fig, and the adults are the only likable characters.
- B.J. is also likable though he is criminally underused.
- The ending is rather heartwarming.
- There is a somewhat chuckle-worthy moment where Marcella suggests the rainbow egg came from a giant chicken and everyone (even Barney), stares at her in a confused manner.
- Barney and Cody actually have a meaningful conversation at one point, which shows some chemistry.
- Despite what WINAGA #14 says, the only thing Twinken does (visualize your dreams) is pretty creative and cute.
Barney's Great Adventure received mixed-to-overwhelmingly negative reviews from critics, audiences, and a large amount of anti-Barney fans, owing to it being based on the aforementioned television program which is aimed at young children aged 1–8, the growing popularity of "anti-Barney humor", and the general unpopularity of the Barney series outside of its target audience of preschoolers. The film currently holds a 32% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 4.2 out of 10 and a critic consensus that states: "Barney's friends are big and small / They come from lots of places / But after this film, their parents / Will be left with pained faces." On IMDb, the film holds a 3.1/10 and was at one point on IMDb's Bottom 100 list. But, as of right now, it isn't on the list anymore. Film critic David Kronke of the Los Angeles Times stated: "Barney looks both more real and more magical on video; on film, he's clearly a doofus in a felt outfit." However, Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film 3 out of 4 stars and stated in his review, "If you like him on TV, you'll like him here, too." Gene Siskel of The Chicago Tribune stated, "Barney doesn't have much of a personality in this story; his character should have been developed in order to hold the big screen for more than a 30-minute program."
Metacritic somewhat scores the film a 44/100 indicating "mixed or average reviews."
The film opened up at #11 on its limited weekend with a gross of only $2,203,865. On its wide weekend, it went to #15 and grossed $1,382,373. The film tanked after getting a domestic gross of only $12,218,638 against its $15 million budget.
Awards and nominations
Barney's Great Adventure was nominated for two Golden Raspberry Awards including Worst New Star, but lost to Jerry Springer for Ringmaster along with Joe Eszterhas as himself in An Alan Smithee Film: Burn Hollywood Burn. The film was also nominated for three Stinkers Bad Movie Awards including Worst Actor for Barney the Dinosaur.
- Trey Parker was offered the chance to direct the film and was, according to Parker himself, offered $1.5 million for the job, but declined - he would create South Park (1997) instead with fellow colleague Matt Stone.
- The movie was originally planned out as a direct-to-video production, but Lyrick Studios (the company behind Barney) wanted it to be a theatrical movie because of Barney's popularity, which actually angered Polygram. This feud actually continued after Polygram was bought by Universal and after Lyrick Studios was bought by HIT Entertainment. Hit was forced to keep Lyrick's Austin Studio open solely for this reason, and was only closed after the conflicts were resolved.
- Stephen White, who was the head writer at the time for Barney & Friends from 1992 to 2005 disowned the film.
- The movie was banned in Malaysia since it was deemed "unsuitable for children". No elaborate reasons were ever given.
- It is possible because of Barney in the shower, Barney changing Fig’s diaper, and Cody's bad behavior towards Barney.
- An early draft of this movie existed and it was possibly slightly better.
- According to writer Stephen White, in the original script, the egg was going to hatch a giant bird who misses its mother, and Baby Bop and BJ were going to have a lot more screen time, appearing in the farmhouse attic, but those scenes were soon scrapped, as director Steve Gomer claimed the scenes to be "unaffordable". Miss. Goldfinch was originally planned to be a comedic character, as opposed to the more subdued character of the final film, the circus scenes and the "Collector" character were not in the original drafts, as well as rather than using a log, Barney and the gang would have built a plane out of cardboard boxes.