Rental Review - Dear Mr. Watterson

Dear Mr. Watterson (2013), NR, 89 minutes - I don't often sit down to watch documentaries, but every once in a while one catches my eye.  Anyone who grew up around the same time I did will recognize after one look at the movie poster just why this one caught my attention.

Much like this film's director Joel Allen Schroeder, I grew up eagerly anticipating the newspaper (especially the Sunday editions) and the brief glimpse into the world of Calvin & Hobbes that Bill Watterson provided us with each day.  We weren't the only ones.  There was just something about those characters and their shenanigans that sucked the world in.  That something is what this documentary focuses on.  Through interviews with other fans, Watterson's peers, editors, and historians Dear Mr. Watterson explores the impact that the mischievous blonde haired kid and his stuffed tiger had on the world.  It looks at changes in the comic strip medium over the years and how they impact today's creators.  It also delves into Watterson's unwillingness to license his creations.  We learn about some of Watterson's influences and hear from others who were influenced by him.  Unfortunately, Bill Watterson doesn't appear in a film that bears his name, but that isn't really a surprise as he has always been known as a very private person.

I don't remember the first time I discovered Calvin & Hobbes, but it probably had something to do with the fact that the tiger was my favorite animal as a kid.  So for me it was likely random coincidence, but for many others, their exposure to the strip was much more profound.  It's fun to hear their stories and to gain some insight from other comic strip creators.  Calvin & Hobbes was always a highlight of my day and meant enough to me that I have the final strip proudly framed and on display in my house.

This film was the result of a successful Kickstarter campaign and can be streamed via Amazon Instant Video here.  I highly recommend it for any Calvin & Hobbes fan, which is pretty much everyone right?












*****SPOILERS*****

- Some of the more recognizable names that are interviewed in this film: Seth Green (Family Guy, Austin Powers, Robot Chicken), Berkeley Breathed (Bloom County, Outland, Opus), Bill Amend (Fox Trot), Jean Schulz (wife of Peanuts creator Charles Shulz).

- There is a post-credits scene that reveals where the name of the film came from.  When asked if he had ever written a to Bill Watterson to share his feelings about Calvin & Hobbes, director Joel Allen Schroeder replies that he has started a letter a number of times but as far as he's ever gotten is 'Dear Mr. Watterson'.

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