Movie Review: Won't You Be My Neighbor?

December 8th, 2019

Details from IMDB:

Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

PG-13 | | DocumentaryBiography | 29 June 2018 (USA)
An exploration of the life, lessons, and legacy of iconic children's television host, Fred Rogers.


 Morgan Neville

Initial Thoughts:

This review will have some similarity to my upcoming one of the Tom Hanks movie about Mr. Rogers, but that can't be avoided. This was on Netflix, I was home alone and it got good reviews, so I watched it.

Main Points:

 The documentary starts off a little slow but soon quickly captured my interest. Part of my childhood was watching Mr. Roger's neighborhood, so there was never any doubt I'd see this. I never realized how much Fred was truly the show, from writing, singing, playing different characters, composing the music and producing, it was truly a huge part of his life. 

I didn't realize that his show was on the air, left, he did a different one (where he talked to adults), came back again and then finally stopped (almost) for good. There was also some really interesting trivia like how he saved PBS from being dismantled just while it was getting started. Rogers was also a republican and an ordained minister. 

You can see how much people loved him from the interviews of those involved in the show. Francois Scarborough Clemmons, who played a cop on the show, in particular, has some really touching moments as he talks about how Fred became a surrogate father for him.

As a child, I didn't realize that the show dealt with serious issues, like when RFK was shot, the challenger disaster and even 9/1/11. Rogers had flaws, his widow talks about him candidly as do his sons but truly he was a very special person. He was the rare kind of TV personally that had no concern about fame/wealth/status and really want to help children (and to a lesser extent adults) be happier and more well adjusted.

Final Thoughts:

I'll warn you, this is a tear-jerker. If you ever watched Mr. Roger's, be prepared for some emotional (and just heartbreaking) moments. I must say I really enjoyed this. A solid 8 out of 10 from me and a big recommendation. Not for children as there is a little harsh language and even some brief nudity, ages 13+. I also have to add before I finish, Fred had a depth to him you didn't suspect and there is even a mystery surrounding him and the number 143 that is only partially answered here. Ok onto the Tom Hanks version! Have a good one.