Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Length: 94 minutes / 1.57 hours
Growing up in the late 1980s and early 1990s, I did spend a fair amount of time watching PBS. From Sesame Street to Bill Nye, one of the shows I would frequently watch was Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Plenty of friends had raved about this documentary, so I finally decided to sit down and watch it. Let me state that most people will probably cry at one point during this movie. After all, there was so much heart present in Fred Roger’s life and profession that you can’t help but be touched by his ministry.
This documentary was a little eye-opening in the sense that it took something from my nostalgia and made me realize how groundbreaking it was. I don’t recall the more “serious” episodes, but watching clips where subjects like assassination, racism, and war are all presented in a fashion that children can understand them is astounding. Fred never talked down to the kids; he merely made them realize that their fears are valid and normal. I also had no idea that he was a man of faith and used his beliefs to influence the shape of the show. Of course, he was incredibly genuine as a person that it makes sense when you think about it.
My one qualm with this film is that it was almost too short. Sure, there was plenty of ground to cover, but it almost felt like it only touched the surface on so many facets of the man and the show. There were certainly moments where I thought, “Oh, I want to learn more about that,” or “I wonder how this was handled,” and the movie never really got into it much. And perhaps the other part of the problem is that there wasn’t that much drama with Fred as a person. He was always this soft-spoken man who preached love and inclusion, never deviating from these Christian tenets for the entirety of his life. Sure, it might be boring, but I doubt anyone could live a life like that now without at least breaking a few times.
A broad look at everyone’s favorite neighbor, I give Won’t You Be My Neighbor? 4.0 stars out of 5.