Jennifer Lopez to produce Bob the Builder movie

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The artist once known as Jenny from the block is spearheading an animated feature about a Latino construction worker voiced by Anthony Ramos

Move over Barbie: the latest Mattel property set for cultural domination has been unveiled as Bob the Builder, the chirpy construction worker who debuted 25 years ago on CBBC and is being belatedly brought to the big screen by booty-shaking multi-hyphenate Jennifer Lopez.

In something of a spin on the original series, the film’s plot will see Roberto (AKA Bob) travel to Puerto Rico for a major construction job, where he “takes on issues affecting the island and digs deeper into what it means to build”.

His journey will reportedly “celebrate the vibrant and colourful textures of the Caribbean Latin nations and their people”. A director has not yet been named, but the screenplay will be written by Felipe Vargas, whose most recent film was a body horror short set in an orphanage plagued by a shadowy fairy who collects more than just the children’s teeth.

Anthony Ramos, whose credits include the stage and big screen versions of In the Heights, will voice the lead.

“Pairing Anthony and Felipe’s genius vision for the story will capture this beloved character in a manner that audiences who grew up with Bob will recognise, and all-new audiences will enjoy,” said Robbie Brenner, president of Mattel Films.

Ramos, who is producing alongside Lopez, added that elements of the film were inspired by his own life, and paid tribute to the character’s positive reinforcement catchphrase.

He said: “For years, Bob the Builder’s characters have inspired young people around the world,” he said. “A movie about friends working together, a celebration of a beautiful home they share, and how love can help to conquer any obstacle in your way. Can we fix it? Yes, we can!”

Bob the Builder began as a masonry specialist who, along with colleague Wendy and assorted friends, neighbours and talking excavators, took on a variety of construction jobs in a cartoon broadcast on the BBC’s children’s channels between 1999 and 2011.

The series was exported worldwide, with small adjustments in terminology as well as a local voice cast. Neil Morrissey, who voiced Bob in the original and scored a UK No 1 single with the song Can We Fix It?, was replaced by Greg Proops for the bulk of the US run of the show.

It was reported that an additional finger would be grafted on to Bob and his colleagues for the Japanese version of the show, bringing the number of digits to five. This was because there is a traditional yakuza practice of cutting off the little finger as a sign of trustworthiness – and broadcasters were eager to imply that Bob and his fellow construction workers weren’t part of the mafia. Yet in the end the four-fingered version remained intact. Four-fingered Postman Pat survived a similar dilemma.

In 2011, Bob and fellow kids’ favourite Thomas & Friends were sold to Mattel for $680m. A revamped show premiered three years later to considerable backlash from fans of the original.

The enormous success of Greta Gerwig’s satirical adaptation of Barbie, which has broken multiple box office records and earlier this week was nominated for eight Oscars, has spawned a slew of Mattel movies.

Many of those are expected to be traditional takes on the toys, but a number of projects are anticipated to be considerably grittier. These include Lena Dunham’s Polly Pocket, Daniel Kaluuya’s “adult” take on Barney the Dinosaur, which “leans into millennial angst” and a Hot Wheels film JJ Abrams promises will be “emotional, grounded and gritty”.

Source: The Guardian