It’s not your imagination: Rainbows are everywhere in Blue’s Big City Adventure, the charming new Blue’s Clues movie that finds Blue and his friend Josh singing and dancing their way across Manhattan in search of Josh’s lost handy-dandy notebook. The film’s director, music video veteran Matt Stawski, says one reason for all the rainbows is that he loves color — but he also wanted to send a message of love and of support for LGBTQ+ viewers.
The new film, streaming Friday on Paramount+, finds Josh traveling to New York City to audition for a Broadway show with a rainbow-colored dog. But he and Blue need to follow some clues — because it’s Blues Clues — to recover the notebook that includes, among other things, the address of his audition. Along the way, they find plenty of time for music and dancing.
“What we really wanted to lean into was the idea of all the storefronts and restaurants with the flowers, because that’s a big thing in New York — putting flower bouquets in front of your restaurants,” Stawski told MovieMaker. “So we leaned into that, but the rainbows kind of came naturally. It’s just because we wanted saturated colors, but at the same time, it’s like, yeah, they’re there. Because we also support the LGBTQ+ community as well, you know, because everyone knows that Blue’s Clues is a proponent of that. It’s kind of like hand in hand.
“I like colors, and they’d be there anyways,” he says. “But, but yeah, we’re waving that flag, too, for sure.” (You can watch some of our interview with Stawski here.)
For as long as children’s programming has existed, cultural conservatives have accused kids show of trying to [clutches pearls] secretly promote a gay agenda. (Anyone remember Jerry Falwell and the gay Teletubby freakout?) Blues Big City Adventure isn’t secretly promoting anything — Stawkski is very upfront about wanting to spread a message of love and acceptance for everyone. Most kids won’t notice. But their parents just might.
The new film continues Blue’s Clues’ embrace of all varieties of families. Last year, Blue’s Clues released a YouTube video of the “Blue’s Clues Pride Parade Sing-Along,” featuring drag queen Nina West, a former contestant on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The lyrics included, “This family has two mommies/they love each other so proudly/and they all go marching in the big parade.”
The rainbow flags are just one way the new film embraces inclusivity. The film is as diverse as New York City itself, and includes the wildly charismatic Filipino-American actor Joshua Dela Cruz in the role of Josh, and a prominent appearance — and gorgeous vocals — by Ali Stroker, a Broadway star who uses a wheelchair.
The cast also includes, in a crucial role, a character who might make longtime Blue’s Clues fans well up with emotion: Steve (Steve Burns), who disappeared from Blue’s Clues a generation ago and recently resurfaced to explain why.
Stawski notes that the film takes a fairly innovative approach to breaking the fourth wall: When Josh speaks directly to the camera, he’s talking to kids. But when Steve talks directly to the camera, he’s talking to their parents. Stawski notes that Steve Burns remains active behind the scenes of Blue’s Clues, as well as appearing on camera.
“He’s still connected to the show, and it’s very important to him. He explained to me how much of a responsibility Blue’s Clues was to him, because he affected so many kids lives and you can’t just grow up and go off and shrug it off. He’s a staple too,” “This idea of when Steve talks to the camera, he’s talking to the adults, and when Josh talks to the camera, he’s talking to the kids, was so interesting to me, because what other movies break that wall?
“It’s not that often. Like in Ferris Bueller, they’re always kind of talking to the same audience, you know? But this is a movie, you have parents who are in their mid-20s, early 30s, who grew up with Steve, watching with their kids who grew up with Josh. It’s just this insane co-viewing thing.”
Blue’s Big City Adventure is now streaming on Paramount+ .
Main image: Blue and Josh in Blue’s Big City Adventure, directed by Matt Stawski.