Among American schoolchildren of a certain age, a universal memory: you’re seated on one of those rugs with the criss-crossing highway pattern, brow furrowed, head buried in an oversized picture book. You’ve scanned the page a dozen times already, scrutinized each and every face, and yet you can’t find that bespectacled little bastard. Your eyes keep drifting towards the same spots, running over the guy accidentally squirting sunscreen instead of ketchup on his hot dog for what must be the 50th time, and he’s nowhere to be found. For a moment, you consider the possibility that the illustrator has pulled a fast one and removed him from the image completely, but you keep the faith and tell yourself that no, he must be somewhere. Where in the ever-loving hell is Waldo?
A new report from the Tracking Board today indicates that Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are set to produce a feature film adaptation of Martin Handford’s timeless series of Where’s Waldo? books and instantly trigger the long-dormant feelings of infuriation in those who grew up searching for the elusive rambler. With his iconic red-and-white striped shirt, pom-pom-topped beanie, and walking stick, Waldo will taunt a new generation of children with a movie vehicle, though the specifics are still pretty murky. How the producers might structure a film around a character whose absence is his defining characteristic is unclear — imagine all the characters spending the entire film asking where Waldo is, like he’s some kind of less-cool Poochie — but sometimes the deliberate vagueness of adapting a non-narrative property can be freeing. After all, the formless command of ‘Make a movie out of Legos!’ brought us the deliriously inventive The LEGO Movie. Thanks to Phil Lord and Chris Miller, now no premise is too slight, corporate, or absurd to be dismissed. A good movie can, and has, come from anywhere. But the direction this one will take has yet to be seen.