I really would love to see a lot of our favorite childhood characters be made into movies if I didn’t already know how terrible those movies would be! Let’s be honest: think of the Garfield and Inspector Gadget movies. They were just bad. Not something that I would knowingly waste money seeing. Hell, I had to turn them off when the movies played on regular cable television. Sure, more or less, these movies stay true to the original cartoons and personalities that we knew and loved in our childhood. But that was before we developed a sense of taste and learned how to differentiate between good and bad entertainment. As kids, we pretty much love anything that’s geared to us until we grow old enough to grow out of it and know what works for us in terms of entertainment, pastimes and style. We grow up.
But still. There’s hope (for example: The Adventures of Tintin). But what if someone took it a step further? For once, can a character from our childhood be as dynamic, real, flawed and complex as we came to be? What if the personalities we loved in our childhood evolved and kind of grew up with us?
After pow-wowing with a co-worker about the beloved Waldo character from the “Where’s Waldo?” series and books and how great he was, I was thinking of how one could make a “Where’s Waldo?” movie that wasn’t completely terrible. And I got it. Make him real. The following is my brainstorm. Prepare to be rained on by an epic idea:
I had to take it back to its roots… In homage to the original creation, the main character will be a Londoner by the name of Wally.
Wally is a modest University student from Gants Hill London, fond of stripes and poofed hats, studying Politics and History. Concerned that the radical ideas of University may be corrupting their child, Wally’s conservative Jewish mother and rabbi father encourage him to visit Israel, to ‘find himself’. Wally, despite the years of Hebrew school and traditional worship, had always rebelled against his Jewish culture. Finally, in the face of his parents’ persistence, he grudgingly agrees to go on the trip. Since he is not particularly enthused about the trip, he breaks away from his Jewish companions for a rogue, solo sojourn throughLebanon, where he is captures by Lebanese soldiers.
This takes place in 2006, amid rising tensions between Lebanon and Israel, shortly before the outbreak of the Lebanon War. He gets caught in the cross fire of the Israeli/Lebanese conflict, where he loses his passport and any indication of his British citizenship and is jailed for ‘war crimes’ he didn’t commit. As he is Jewish and Hebrew-speaking, he is marked as an enemy by the Lebanese. To work off his debt of his crime, he is forced to engage in guerilla warfare against the Israeli (his being Jewish adds to the internal conflict). When not engaged in warfare, he’s a slave forced to work as a lackey for wealthy Lebanese crime boss in one of his many harems in a remote Lebanese village far from anyone with the ability to help him escape.
Through his time is forced servitude, he meets an multitude of others, some kidnapped, others forced into slavery like he, some shamed by unspeakable deeds, shunned by society and abandoned and labeled as social miscreants. Most women that he surveys in the harem fall into that category and eventually fall into prostitution as the only means by which they can preserves their lives and provide for their fatherless children. Wally, moved by the suffering and stories he sees and an ever growing desire to taste freedom once more, encourages the other captives to act. Eventually, they plan a mass escape from their tormentors via a simple plan: they’ll all dress in the same garbs one day, and create a large disturbance in the village that is run by their boss. And in the chaos, Wally will make a mad dash for freedom before their captors realize what has transpired and he has escaped… “Where’s Wally?”, they ponder, as our hero gallops off into the desert and manages to get to Cyprus by being smuggled on a fishing boat. The ending is kind of vague, but implied to be happy, as he stumbles, exhausted but hopeful, onto the steps of the British Embassy. Help for him and his friends are on the way.
A gut wrenching unforgiving expose on sex and human trafficking and Jewish and Arab identity, “Where’s Wally” would undoubtedly earn a 90+ on Rotten Tomatoes.
This might to too real for a lot of people. And, hélas, the world may never know such an evolution of a childhood great. I would much prefer something like this or at least leaving the past in the past, rather the terrible revivals that have me asking myself : “Why did I even like this as a kid?”