The thing about Mr. Rogers, and Mr. Rogers’s Neighborhood is that it’s one of those crazy full on cultural memories that’s hard to parse. We all simply, know this man and his show and how it looks to us. It’s comforting and real, and beautiful and that’s what the really interestingly constructed Won’t You Be My Neighbor is examining. That feeling of comfort and, even more specifically, the man who inspired it.
A quiet biography of a great a can get dull, feel like hagiography, or be simply uninspired. But that’s not the case here. Everything you’ve heard about Won’t You Be My Neighbor is likely true. From the way it brings this larger than life figure back to earth, to that cathartic cry you will have in the last few moments (if not before) (I cried like six times. )
I have fond memories of post pre-school and home sick mornings watching Mr. Rogers. Memories of King Friday and Lady Elaine and Daniel Striped Tiger and the trolly. Daniel of course, now carries on his creator’s legacy, and is used to amazing effect here, as an eerie animated avatar of Rogers’ childhood psyche.
Interviews with cast and crew and family and friends illuminate this great man, and the much discussed conversation about Francois Clemmens being kept in the closet by his employer is such a blip, that’s actually kind of lovely. (And takes the context of the times and socio-political position Rogers was in into account. Something that I think young internet writers don’t want to deal with…but I digress.) That’s not a story about oppression (entirely) it’s a story about how compassion and open dialog lead to changing minds and norms.
And while I get that calls to civility and calm are hard right now, (And often extended hypocritically! ) it’s impossible for me to not think kindness is the way to go on a one to one basis, and that seems to be what the film is arguing for. Fury at institutions is not discounted by the way. Roger’s righteous anger at the establishment’s exploitation of children and disregarding of their feelings and safety are stunningly portrayed.
- Solo: A Star Wars Story
- Deadpool 2
- Ocean’s 8
- Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
- Avengers: Infinity War (Weird how low this is ranking)
Johnny English: Huh, I remember when this movie happened. It’s nice that it’s getting a sequel I guess.