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Dear Mr. Watterson Reviews

Page 1 of 4
August 18, 2014
"Dear Mr. Watterson" tells the story of Calvin and Hobbes, a comic strip that defied industry standards and ended in its prime. There is a lot more to this strip than a simple cartoon boy with an active imagination. The strip itself has been lauded as one of the greatest of all time. The stylized social commentary is genius in its own rite and is then combined with some of the best artistry in the industry. The sterotypes and social issues of our society are exaggerated in the imagination of this young boy, but always in a comical way. It appeals to all age groups, from kids who think that the tiger is cute to adults who are amused by Calvin's view of the adult world. But this documentary explores even deeper layers by examining the man behind the comic. Do not expect to see an interview with Bill Watterson in this documentary. That is part of the mystery. After completing Calvin and Hobbes, he removed himself from the public eye and lives in privacy with his wife. He rarely gives an interview, not even for a documentary about his life. Watterson ended the comic after a mere ten years to avoid a formulaic comic that repeated itself. He also passed on tens of millions of dollars that could have been made in merchandise because he did not want to cheapen his characters. Many of his colleagues share their perspectives on Watterson's choices throughout this documentary and it is amazing to see the level of respect that the community has for Watterson and his Calvin and Hobbes comic. He did not create this comic to make money. He created it for his love of comics, and consequently impacted most people who lived between 1985-1995. I have personally felt this impact of this comic, selecting a panel from a Calvin and Hobbes strip to be recreated as a painting in first grade. Perhaps the greatest moment of this comic was its final strip. It is so simple and perfect, and open to many different interpretations. I believe that Watterson is telling us that our childhood never has to end. That even when we move on to something new, we should approach it with the open-mindedness and imagination of a child, and that we should never stop exploring. If you were not a Calvin and Hobbes fan before watching this documentary, you certainly will be afterwards. Now please excuse me while I borrow one of the Calvin and Hobbes collections to relive my childhood.
juliantoepfer
October 21, 2013
There are few childhood introductions that you remember. I don't remember meeting extended family members for the first time as a 4 year old or meeting my kindergarten teacher. I do however remember the first time I met 'Calvin and Hobbes'. I was 5 years old, and my mother brought home a really interesting looking book from the bookstore one day. I was inherently drawn to the incredible artwork on the cover of my mothers copy of 'The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes' treasury, which she kept on the highest shelf in our living room. My mother would only let me read it if I promised to take good care of it and give it back to her when I was done. Over time, I fell so in love with the strip that I would scale the book shelves (which seemed like climbing Mount Everest at the time) to sneak some time with Calvin and his tiger.

Looking back, I can't say that anything else from my childhood has managed to preserve its wonder, relevance and wisdom in my world the way 'Calvin and Hobbes' has. Its easy to see why I loved it as a 5 year old. The artwork, the outward funniness of the strip, the imagination, etc. But now in my late 20's, I have found so many more reasons to love these characters. 'Calvin and Hobbes' is about so much more than funny jokes. It is about the wonderment of childhood, friendship, the power of imagination, integrity, nature, philosophy, the human condition, life and death, individuality, and so much more. I really can't think of anything (other than my parents) who influenced my world and my view of it more than 'Calvin and Hobbes'. It is something I hold very dearly, and wouldn't trade for the world.

'Dear Mr. Watterson' is essentially everything I just said spelled out through interviews with other cartoonists, avid fans, influenced celebrities, and cartoon historians. As a film, I can't say that it was a tremendous documentary. It was somewhat scattershot and lacked a real structure. Based simply on its own merit, I would probably rate it a 3/5. It really doesn't bring anything new to the table or present any unique take on its subject matter. It is essentially 90 minutes of hero worship to the strip and its creator, the enigmatic Bill Watterson. That said, hero worship is just fine by me. I completely enjoyed seeing all these people who were touched by 'Calvin and Hobbes' the way I was and hearing their stories. As much as this film lacked a strong overall focus and lineage, I enjoyed every second of it.

The film does spend a fair amount of time dissecting Watterson's infamous battles with Universal Syndicate and the licensing of his characters. I personally find Watterson's unflinching and unbreakable artistic ethics one of the more inspiring examples I have ever seen. The man turned down literally tens of millions (and perhaps much more) of dollars to maintain what he believed in and the integrity of his art. He turned down pitches from Spielberg, Disney, Lucas, ABC, and dozens of other incredibly high profile offers, as well as every type of merchandizing under the sun. Watterson understood what his characters were and how they were intended to be viewed. The idea of Hobbes selling MetLife insurance turns my stomach, and the fact that Watterson flat out refused obscene paycheck after obscene paycheck to keep that from happening is remarkable.

The film also gets into many more of Watterson's facets: his borderline reclusive personality, complete adverseness to fame, his history, and his influences among them. However, the films primary focus remains on the strip itself, the undeniable impact it had on so many peoples lives, and why it remains so important.

'Calvin and Hobbes' left an indelible mark on my life and my worldview. 15 years after its conclusion, I miss the strip more than I miss most people I knew 15 years ago. While I will always selfishly want more, I am so happy the strip never sold out, never waivered, and never lost the impossibly high standards Watterson set for himself. 'Dear Mr. Watterson' is a love letter to all of these thoughts, and I enjoyed it tremendously.
Julian T.
August 26, 2014
There are few childhood introductions that you remember. I don't remember meeting extended family members for the first time as a 4 year old or meeting my kindergarten teacher. I do however remember the first time I met 'Calvin and Hobbes'. I was 5 years old, and my mother brought home a really interesting looking book from the bookstore one day. I was inherently drawn to the incredible artwork on the cover of my mothers copy of 'The Indispensable Calvin and Hobbes' treasury, which she kept on the highest shelf in our living room. My mother would only let me read it if I promised to take good care of it and give it back to her when I was done. Over time, I fell so in love with the strip that I would scale the book shelves (which seemed like climbing Mount Everest at the time) to sneak some time with Calvin and his tiger.

Looking back, I can't say that anything else from my childhood has managed to preserve its wonder, relevance and wisdom in my world the way 'Calvin and Hobbes' has. Its easy to see why I loved it as a 5 year old. The artwork, the outward funniness of the strip, the imagination, etc. But now in my late 20's, I have found so many more reasons to love these characters. 'Calvin and Hobbes' is about so much more than funny jokes. It is about the wonderment of childhood, friendship, the power of imagination, integrity, nature, philosophy, the human condition, life and death, individuality, and so much more. I really can't think of anything (other than my parents) who influenced my world and my view of it more than 'Calvin and Hobbes'. It is something I hold very dearly, and wouldn't trade for the world.

'Dear Mr. Watterson' is essentially everything I just said spelled out through interviews with other cartoonists, avid fans, influenced celebrities, and cartoon historians. As a film, I can't say that it was a tremendous documentary. It was somewhat scattershot and lacked a real structure. Based simply on its own merit, I would probably rate it a 3/5. It really doesn't bring anything new to the table or present any unique take on its subject matter. It is essentially 90 minutes of hero worship to the strip and its creator, the enigmatic Bill Watterson. That said, hero worship is just fine by me. I completely enjoyed seeing all these people who were touched by 'Calvin and Hobbes' the way I was and hearing their stories. As much as this film lacked a strong overall focus and lineage, I enjoyed every second of it.

The film does spend a fair amount of time dissecting Watterson's infamous battles with Universal Syndicate and the licensing of his characters. I personally find Watterson's unflinching and unbreakable artistic ethics one of the more inspiring examples I have ever seen. The man turned down literally tens of millions (and perhaps much more) of dollars to maintain what he believed in and the integrity of his art. He turned down pitches from Spielberg, Disney, Lucas, ABC, and dozens of other incredibly high profile offers, as well as every type of merchandizing under the sun. Watterson understood what his characters were and how they were intended to be viewed. The idea of Hobbes selling MetLife insurance turns my stomach, and the fact that Watterson flat out refused obscene paycheck after obscene paycheck to keep that from happening is remarkable.

The film also gets into many more of Watterson's facets: his borderline reclusive personality, complete adverseness to fame, his history, and his influences among them. However, the films primary focus remains on the strip itself, the undeniable impact it had on so many peoples lives, and why it remains so important.

'Calvin and Hobbes' left an indelible mark on my life and my worldview. 15 years after its conclusion, I miss the strip more than I miss most people I knew 15 years ago. While I will always selfishly want more, I am so happy the strip never sold out, never waivered, and never lost the impossibly high standards Watterson set for himself. 'Dear Mr. Watterson' is a love letter to all of these thoughts, and I enjoyed it tremendously.
James Adams
July 29, 2014
'Dear Mr. Watterson' is documentary that chronics the famed cartoonist's most popular comic strip Calvin and Hobbes.

The film plays out like a love letter. It includes tons and tons of interviews from average Joe's who enjoyed the comic strip as well as a few notable names including fellow cartoonists and Seth Green. They all explain why the comic helped them grow and what they loved about it, and that's great and all but by the end of the film that's really all the content we're given.

Beyond countless interviews by people who continuously say they enjoyed the comic and that it was a masterpiece, they're just wasn't enough to the movie besides that. Instead of feeding us facts or information that most documentaries do, it instead just says I love you. The film really doesn't document Calvin and Hobbes, because to document is to tell about its history and the film simply didn't do that.

Sure, the film is fairly sweet but after 20 minutes it simply becomes sour. It doesn't hold your interest, no matter how comfy it may be. It simply would've worked better as a half hour special rather than as a full length film. There's just not enough content presented to justify a feature length.

All and All, 'Dear Mr. Watterson' would've served better as a half hour special rather than as a feature length film. It overdoses on love and lacks any real content or information that makes for strong documentaries. C- 6/29/14

'Dear Mr. Watterson' is unrated. It's appropriate for 10 and up, but outside of Calvin and Hobbes fans, they may not show much interest in this one.
July 22, 2014
Well done documentary on a little talked about sector/profession, I thoroughly enjoyed it!
August 3, 2013
Dear Mr. Watterson is a passionate documentary, with spectacular animation sequences, that reaches out to cartoonists and comic strips in general in addition to Calvin and Hobbes, but is sadly short of holding on its own - It's not edited or put together in the best way, nor does it truly dive in an analysis. In the end, your hour and a half could be better spent in reading an actual Calvin and Hobbes book.
July 15, 2014
The whole movie is just everyone saying how great Calvin and Hobbes is and basically that Bill Watterson is like a god
June 28, 2014
I like that he didn't hound Bill Watterson, but respected his privacy.
June 24, 2014
I'm a huge Calvin and Hobbes fan, so definitely enjoyed this one (streaming on Netflix now!).
June 13, 2014
90 mins of people talking about someone who refuses to talk for himself in a doc about his work. really. ....really!?
June 6, 2014
Is this the worst narrator or what? His voice is completely monotone, his insights are basic, and he focuses entirely too much on himself. The documentary is supposed to be about the subject, not the documentarian. Some of the interviews, when you get past all the fanboys, are interesting and provide understanding of the world of syndicated comics, but when it comes to talking about the strip itself, there is absolutely nothing new brought to the table, and it just devolves into a public forum for people to suck Watterson's dick, and talk about how he didn't sell out. Like we haven't done that enough already.

I love the strip too. I'm not going to make a movie showing myself telling the world I love it. Fuck this guy and his ego.
August 12, 2013
Certainly NOT what I had hoped for.
May 29, 2014
A sweet little doc but nothing earth shattering. Obviously there is no interview with the JD Salinger of the cartoon world but it's cool to hear from some of today's top comic strip writers talk about the influence Bill Watterson had on them. Still, I expected a little more.
May 28, 2014
Watching this documentary is like eating a tasty nostalgia burger.
May 25, 2014
I was so excited about this documentary. I suppose it was still worth watching, as I learned some history of Watterson that I wouldn't have otherwise. However, this was a documentary which couldn't even let itself stick to it's topic, often taking tangents into commentary on comic strips as a whole, much of it unnecessary. In truth, much of what this documentary documented was already known. Schroeder set out to document the impact of Calvin and Hobbes. Unfortunately, this impact is already understood by anyone who would care enough to watch the documentary. If you already are a fan of Calvin and Hobbes, just go read your books again. You'll get the same nostalgic trip down memory lane with a lot more fun.
October 15, 2013
More of a nostalgia fest than a documentary. Its just memories of famous people reading Calvin and Hobbes but whatever if you're in the mood for that then watch it....Then you find out later they pretty much copied word by word out of Wikipedia
May 25, 2014
Clunky narrative that finds its voice once the mystique and underlying, anti-establishment philosophy of the reclusive Bill Watterson bubbles to the top via interviews from other notable comic strip artists.
May 17, 2014
A great documentary with heart. While this does not have a one on one interview with Bill Watterson ( a very private individual) it does have interview with many major players in the comic strip industry as well visits to Bill Watterson's home town where you see the inspiration of the art in his strips.
As well trips to other locations such as Ohio States library where all the original artwork is preserved. 104 minutes of great content for those who want a keen insight to Bill Watterson and the comic strip Calvin and Hobbes, well worth the taking the time to watch.
November 12, 2013
a bit of a let down, but overall, it does delve into some interesting side history. Pacing does feel a bit rushed though.
andres74varela
January 5, 2014
Queda claro que el pequeño Joel Allen Schroeder aun no saca la cabeza de su natal Milwaukee. El documental parece mas un proyecto escolar y no aporta nada sobre la vida de Watterson. Se trata de un tributo a su más querida caricatura de un admirador que se armó de una cámara y consiguió dinero por Internet a través de "crowdfunding". Triste.
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