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Review: Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

June 9, 2018

By John Corrado

★★★★ (out of 4)

Directed by Morgan Neville, following his Oscar-winning 20 Feet from Stardom and the excellent Best of EnemiesWon’t You Be My Neighbor? looks at the life and career of Fred Rogers, the unlikely star of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.

With his soft voice and gentle way of speaking, Fred Rogers had a true knack for understanding children that allowed him to really connect with his young viewers, and he was able to touch many adults as well with his message of treating others with kindness.

Beginning in 1968, his show was also much more sophisticated than a lot of people realize, as he tackled topics ranging from racial discrimination, divorce, and even death, helping children understand their feelings and subtly changing the way people talked about these complex social issues.

An ordained minister and lifelong Republican, Fred Rogers also made no secret of his Christian beliefs and core values, and saw his program as a way to counter a lot of the other stuff that was being put out for kids on TV at the time.  The film touches on some of the many highlights from his long life and career, including when he famously went before Congress in 1969 and successfully convinced Senator Pastore to continue publicly funding PBS, saving both his show and the entire network in the process.

I used to watch Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood quite a lot as a kid, so watching this film obviously made me very emotional.  Through interviews with many of the surviving people who worked on his show, including François Clemmons whose story adds an even deeper layer of meaning to it, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? serves as a touching and very powerful portrait of what Fred Rogers stood for as a person, and the call for love and kindness that he exuded through his work.  It’s wonderful.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is now playing in limited release at Cineplex Cinemas Varsity in Toronto.

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One Comment leave one →
  1. June 11, 2018 10:59 am

    I too grew up with Mister Rogers, and his Christian message still resonates and comforts today.

    Like

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