‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ | Movie Review - Republic-Times | News

‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ | Movie Review

By on June 15, 2018 at 12:56 pm

The black-and-white film shows a little girl standing and staring at Fred Rogers, the man she watches on television. He smiles at her, as she finds her voice, and manages to croak out “Mister Rogers, I have to tell you something. I like you.”

Most of us feel that way. Even though people may say that Mister Rogers taught a generation of kids to think they were entitled because they were all so special, and even though some may call Mister Rogers’ approach wimpy and square, there is no denying the huge number of people impacted by Mister Rogers and his neighborhood.

That’s why I think “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” will have a large audience when it hits theaters this week. Morgan Neville’s (he will win an Academy Award for this) documentary covers many facets of the show we grew up with, but in the end, the main focus of the 90-minute film is what Fred Rogers tried to convey to everyone: We all need to know we are loved by someone, and we all need to know that we have the ability to love.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is not a biography nor is it your typical documentary. I think I’d have to call it more of a celebration.

Those of us who grew up with the show will get an inside peek at the low-budget sets including the famous living room, “picture-picture,” and trolley. The puppet citizens of The Neighborhood of Make Believe make an appearance. We also get to see some of the cast, including Betty Aberlin (some of us will admit she was our first crush), Handyman Negri, and Mr. “Speedy-Delivery” McFeely.

One of the more touching interviews was with Francois Clemmons, an African-American opera singer who was asked to join the cast as a police officer in the 1960s.

The cast and crew tell stories; some of them hilarious and surprising, and reveal something that many of us didn’t realize about Mr. Rogers: He was radical and current and poised to make a difference.

You must see this movie, even if you didn’t grow up with the show. Those of us who did will remember –with a lump in our throat – how watching Mister Rogers made us all feel like someone really did think we were special. After seeing this film, I think we all will feel that Mister Rogers did feel that way about all children. He liked us just the way we are.

My grade: An A+ with extra credit points!

”Won’t You Be My Neighbor” is rated PG-13, mainly due to some language (can you believe that?) and runs 94 minutes.

Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.