It ran for just slightly more than a decade—a drop in the bucket compared with most successful comic strips. Yet Calvin and Hobbes, the brainchild of Chagrin Falls, Ohio, cartoonist Bill Watterson, continues to have a profound influence on artists and readers alike. First-time feature filmmaker Joel Allen Schroeder’s jaunty nonfiction paean to the adventures of the spiky-haired six-year-old (Calvin) and his jungle-cat companion (Hobbes) is pitched primarily at those who’ve already spent hours poring over Watterson’s pithy, penetrating creation.
Schroeder isn’t interested in seeking out the comic’s creator—a perpetual shunner of the spotlight—so much as exploring what Calvin and Hobbes means to its eclectically diverse readership. The talking-head testimonials are mostly preach-to-the-choir gush, and the score by one-man band We Were Pirates grates with its sprightly sentiment. (Some fleeting edge is provided by Bloom County creator Berkeley Breathed, who speaks candidly about his and Watterson’s differing views on licensing their work.) Still, if any modern strip is worthy of an extended, Hobbes-style tongue bath, it’s this one.
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