Hey, Boo: A Cinematic Mash Note to Harper Lee and her Mockingbird
Self-satisfied boomer nostalgia is To Kill a Mockingbirds albatross. Somehow, continuing to love Harper Lees novel (or Robert Mulligans movie adaptation) because it moved you as a kid isnt enoughonly hyperbolic public praise and unverifiable claims of its sweeping social influence will do. This doc from director Mary Murphy is more of that same. She gathers a host of writers and other celebrities to sing Lees praises and read from the book, including Scott Turow and reliably weepy bloviater Oprah Winfrey. Lee hasnt granted an interview in years, but her refreshingly direct 99-year-old sister, Alice, provides insight into the authors early life and aborted friendship with Truman Capote (the rumor that he ghosted Mockingbird is effectively dispelled here, but his vices are cruelly highlighted), as well as her post-Mockingbird fame and subsequent literary silence. Mulligans film gets its share of hosannas, too, with actress Mary Badham providing colorful anecdotes from the set. The closest Hey, Boo gets to apostasy is when 60s activist Andrew Young expresses guarded skepticism over Mockingbirds extra-literary sway, but he then proceeds to give it indirect credit for starting the civil rights movement. The overall effect is flattering but shallow, making Murphys movie the last thing Mockingbird needsanother toothless encomium. No wonder Lee dodges the limelight.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you’ll never miss Village Voice's biggest stories.