I saw this movie today and I have to say it was everything I expected to be: cheap.
Bill Watterson’s “Calvin and Hobbes” is sacred ground. Every fan knows this. Watterson earned his place as one of the best cartoonists of all time, and in a manner that was/is rather unique. One doesn’t go into a room full of people and start talking shit about Calvin and Hobbes.
That said? I have to be blunt.
If I had to describe Joel Allen Schroeder’s documentary “Dear Mr. Watterson” in one word it would be “repetitive.” Clocking in at just shy of an hour and a half, I felt the movie could have been 40 minutes shorter with no noticeable tarnish.
Frankly most of the movie is people (fans, editors, artists) singing Watterson’s praises. Not only does Watterson not make no appearance in the film, but we actually learn very little about him in general.
I was really hoping to find out something that I didn’t know after seeing this documentary and sadly that wasn’t the case.
Not that it didn’t have it’s moments. My favorite interview was with Stephan Pastis who discussed the possible motivation for Watterson’s refusal to license any product apart from the books. Pastis was probably the only person interviewed that had anything remotely negative to say about Watterson, and thus his portion was a much welcomed contrast.
As much as I cherish Calvin and Hobbes, it is not above critique. It would have been interesting to hear from people that didn’t approve of the sexism, violence, or white washed populace of the strip. Hell, it would have been great if they had an art critic talk about how “comics aren’t high art” if only to offer a differing opinion from the monotony of the films constant adoration of the cartoonist.
There are a ton of “documentaries” just like this that take advantage of a particular fan base. Instead of substance we are treated to a collection of people that look at the camera and say “I ALSO LIKE THIS THING.”
So if you were debating seeing this film, my advice is stay inside and re-read all the forwards and introductions to the books (especially the 10th anniversary book). Trust me, you’ll get more out of it.
I wish I could say that I won’t fall for one of these films again but…but…”Stripped.”