As someone who grew up anticipating each new Encyclopedia Brown that Donald J. Sobol published, I couldn’t be more jazzed with Warner Bros.’ recent interest in reinvigorating a feature version of the child detective book series. I’m well aware of its potential for failure, but sometimes optimism is key with cherished properties. It’s something of a mystery in itself that Warner has chosen Matthew Johnson, the director and star of the recent drama The Dirties, to write a draft of the script, according Deadline. It isn’t quite like asking Takashi Miike to make a Winnie the Pooh movie, but there’s an equal amount of bizarreness to the decision. It seems like he’d be more in line for a Mystery Team-like film over something geared towards kids.

For those unaware, The Dirties is a darkly comedic and bothersome look at how high school bullying leads one cinema-obsessed student over the deep end, where his equally bullied best friend is reluctant to follow him. Johnson, who also wrote the film, plays the troubled teen who finds mental refuge in planning a revenge plot that sprouts from a violent student film the duo made. The point is, it’s a disturbing flick, even with its share of problems. Proving its effectiveness, The Dirties took the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Festival in January, which attracted the attention of Kevin Smith, who distributed the film for its VOD and limited theatrical release earlier this month.

And from the subject matter of school shootings to wise pre-teens who run an amateur detective company out of their garage. Encyclopedia Brown books were almost always the same in basic concept, with a selection of crime mysteries that the readers were meant to figure out before gauging their sleuthiness by checking the answers in the back of the book. The mysteries, brought up by school children or Encyclopedia’s father, the local police chief, generally figured on one single detail found to be amiss, and then everything is hunky dory again once the wrongs are righted.

Except there’s Bugs Meany, who leads a whole squad of bullies called the Tigers. Bugs is always causing trouble for Encyclopedia and his rough-and-tumble friend/bodyguard Sally, and frequently tries to swindle people out of their money. Once has to wonder just how dastardly Bugs’ actions are going to be, with Johnson behind the story. Granted, it is going to be a family film and I’m not trying to make Johnson out to be a one-trick pony. I’ve got all the confidence in the world that he might make this work. And if he loads it down with movie references rather than douchebag bullies, I’m all about that as well.

It’s not like Encyclopedia hasn’t gotten adult at some point before, as you’ll see in the below Robot Chicken clip.

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