Malibu Ken might be ultimately heroic in "Toy Story 3," but the dude plays poker and hangs with a rough crowd. And he's the butt of a lot of Ken jokes.
Despite this, the toy maker Mattel was in on the joke for both Barbie and Ken -- each of which are franchise toy characters for the company.
When asked by Popcorn Biz what restrictions the filmmakers had working with Ken and Barbie, "Toy Story 3" director Lee Unkrich responded, "There wasn't a list of things we couldn't do. A lot of it was common sense. We're making a family film. It's not like we're going to have Ken go in a murderous rampage."
Unkrich said Pixar worked closely with Mattel and the toy company "had a clear understanding of what we wanted to do."
"They got the joke," he said. "They got what we were doing with Ken and they were on board with it. And we went from there."
Producer Darla K. Anderson said the filmmakers did not have "free reign. We developed a trusting relationship with (Mattel)."
While specifics were spelled out, the company did not look at "Toy" scripts. "That's not possible," said Anderson. Unkrich said Mattel knew "everything that was happening. All the situations."
This is not Pixar's first rodeo in the real toy world. The filmmakers notably also work with Hasbro for their Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head characters. But Barbie and Ken are a much bigger, and seemingly riskier proposition.
If there was any gamble, it's paid off perfectly. Ken never seemed so rad after being fleshed out in "Toy Story 3." And Barbie showed off some big words, faithfulness and a lot of heart. She could still use a sandwich or two.