Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Review
Hi, Neighbor. I’m a part of the Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood generation. Mr. Rogers raised me and my contemporaries as much as our parents did. We are better people because of this. The new documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, celebrates the impact on our nation, his influence in television, and ultimately his life. This is a trolley ride you will want to catch!
Fred Rogers was an unlikely blend of charisma, intelligence, and compassion. Listening to his wife, sons, sister, costars, crew members, foundation members, etc. reminisce fondly for one and a half hours is probably one of the greatest experiences you will have in a movie theater this year.
You will laugh, you will cry, you will shake your head with wonder realizing what a radical Mr. Rogers was. He wasn’t just about cardigans and sneakers. In the 60’s he dealt with issues such as war, divorce and death. In the 60’s! He made kids realize that they were special and that feelings were not something to be tamped down. He took children (and their psychological growth) very seriously.
I was especially moved by the cartoons of his puppet Daniel (who was Mr. Rogers’ alter ego in puppet form) that moved the segments along. Beautiful and fitting animation. I was also profoundly touched by Mr. Rogers’ interaction with Koko the Gorilla. Koko sensed the wonderfulness of the man. Also, if you have a dry eye after watching his interaction with Jeffery Erlanger or listening to Francois Scarborough Clemmons’ revelation, I have no words. You might think you won’t get emotional, but you’ll get emotional.
Even if you didn’t grow up living in Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, you should still see this documentary. If anything, it will remind you that our words and actions matter- especially to children. I challenge you to see this movie and take some Mr. Rogers home with you.