DEAR MR. WATTERSON: AN EXPLORATION OF CALVIN & HOBBES - Now On DemandNovember 15, 2013

DEAR MR. WATTERSON: AN EXPLORATION OF CALVIN & HOBBES - Now On Demand

Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)

On Demand Weekly provides new movie reviews of hot movies on demand and from the POV of watching from the comfort of your home. Today’s review: DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures).


EXCLUSIVE: Read Director Joel Schroeder's  8 Things He’d Like You to Know About Calvin & Hobbes here...


 

DEAR MR. WATTERSON
By Joe Charnitski

 
The sight of a child laying on the living room floor surrounded by comics from the local newspaper seems like an idyllic vision of Sunday morning. I guess we’re more likely to see a kid holding an iPad these days, but for generations the Sunday comics were a regular part of any child’s weekend. Maybe you were precocious and enjoyed the political jokes in Doonesbury. Perhaps you were smart enough for Gary Larson’s The Far Side, or at least pretended to be. Could of been classics like Peanuts that kept you coming back for more.
 

Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)


There was something for everyone, but few strips have received the “icon” treatment given to Calvin and Hobbes from the new documentary DEAR MR. WATTERSON.

Most of the first section of the film is filled with recollections from the deepest corners of comic fandom about Calvin & Hobbes. Strip historians and archivists, contemporaries of Bill Watterson, the creator of Calvin & Hobbes, and a league of writers and artists who came after, bathed in Mr. Watterson’s influence tell us that Calvin & Hobbes was the most important and memorable strip of its era.

 

 

Courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)


 A trip to Bill Watterson’s hometown yields some small perspective on the town he created for his characters to live in. There are a few examples of particularly important episodes in the Calvin & Hobbes epic and a little insight as the doc moves along into the life of a strip artist, although not enough of any of that. A lot of time is spent with talking heads telling us how important and influential Watterson was, a point well made very early and then repeated...and repeated.

The most interesting section of the film gets a little more esoteric. It discusses the battle between art and commerce in the comic strip world. Certainly that tug of war is present in every creative field, but in Bill Watterson you have a unique foil to the standard tale. He never licensed Calvin & Hobbes: no toys, no lunch boxes, no cartoons, no holiday specials. 

 

In one way, that has kept the strip and its characters pure, untainted by an unwelcome collaborative effort. Since Calvin & Hobbes will only forever live within the pages of the strip, the strip is an unblemished bit of artistic perfection for all die hard fans. In another way, it might expose Mr. Watterson as a man too eager to control his creation.

 

Would millions of children going to bed

with their own Hobbes doll really have been so bad?


 As the doc progresses there’s a brief discussion about the dissipation of culture in our society. Sure newspapers are fading into the history books (oops, I mean the history apps) and, of course comic strips are losing that valuable real estate they once relied upon. But beyond that, are we losing touch completely with the cultural touchstones that keep members of a society together? Is it true, as one speaker states in the film that “there will never be another Beatles”? Is the end of the strip really the end of something much more profound?

I suppose all of this is why DEAR MR. WATTERSON left me with a little, nagging feeling of nostalgia. I don’t know that die hard fans of Calvin & Hobbes will learn anything new about their favorite strip or artist here. Casual comic strip readers may not want to wade through the repetitive fan gushing at the top of the film. It did give me a few things to think about, as every doc worth watching should.

 

Joel Schroeder, courtesy DEAR MR. WATTERSON (Gravitas Ventures)

 

The title is clearly meant to resemble the opening of a letter. When all is finished, the film feels like a love letter to the man himself, making sure he knows the impact he had on a generation.

 

 

TRY IY

 

Joe Charnitski

 

Joe Charnitski
Joe Charnitski is a new contributing writer to On Demand Weekly. His career in film and television production, development and marketing has included stops at Miramax Films, Syfy and VH1. He currently works at a entertainment focused social media marketing agency in New York City. Twitter:@JoeCharnitski

 

Read Joe's Other Reviews...

ALL IS BRIGHT -  TRY IT 

I DECLARE WAR -  TRY IT 

THE AMBASSADOR DEMAND IT

AMERICAN ANIMAL - TRY IT 

STEVE JOBS: ONE LAST THING DEMAND IT

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