MR DRESSUP: THE MAGIC OF MAKE BELIEVE
Starring: Eric McCormack, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Bif Naked, Michael J. Fox, Bruce McCulloch, Scott Thompson, Graham Greene, Andrew Phung, Fred Penner, Jonathan Torrens, Chris Coombs, Cathie LeFort, Judith Lawrence, Fred Penner, and Ernie Coombs
Director: Robert McCallum
As with many Canadians, I grew up watching Mr. Dressup. He was our Mister Rogers, which is fitting as he began as Fred Rogers’ protégé. That is one of many things I learned about Ernie Coombs in this documentary. Told through numerous interviews with a Canadian Who’s Who, this walk down memory lane features the highs and lows of Coombs’s life, as well as exploring a little children’s show that became a juggernaut by amassing 4000 episodes. This terrific documentary makes for the perfect companion piece to Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, a spotlight put on another man who helped shape many generations. Have tissues nearby.
I didn’t grow up watching Mr. Dressup, but The Magic of Make-Believe made me wish that I had. This charming documentary shares the wonderful story of Ernie Coombs, skillfully navigating the ups and downs of his life with the same warmth and tenderness that he so famously brought to the screen. I loved the story, but some of the film’s technical choices bothered me. The graphics were distracting, and the score felt slightly over-used. Despite those minor complaints, I’d still say that whether you’re a fan of Mr. Dressup, or simply interested in Canadian media history, Make-Believe is definitely worth a watch.
This film was reviewed by Nick as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.