At times growing up, the world seemed to be a scary place filled with uncertainty. However, each afternoon when I turned on the television, there would be a man wearing a sweater and pair of sensible shoes that made those fears fade away.
Fred Rogers showed that being a neighbor to others could change the world through his television show, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood.”
The new documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” opens a window into Rogers’ life. It shows his philosophy of friendship, love, and kindness was something he fully embraced on and off camera.
As a kid, I never realized how many serious topics Rogers worked to teach children. Subjects ranged from how to deal with anger to death and grief. The approach taken by Rogers and the characters in the Land of Make Believe to these topics were not to sidestep them but to talk about them upfront in a kind manner.
The film brought those lessons to the forefront of my mind and showed Rogers’ genius. The documentary highlights this approach in great detail.
He was also all about the personal relationship with his audience, and that is what made those lessons stick years later. I always felt when the program ended each day that I spent time with a good friend who made me a better person. Countless people interviewed remarked how that connection was important to him.
The way he built relationships in this positive way is recognized in the film.
The interviews the filmmakers did with family members, friends, television cast, crew, and guests bring this point home. Listing to personal stories about working with Mr. Rodgers made me feel like I got to know the man just a little bit better. It also made me wish I could have told him "thank you" for the impact he had in my early years.
The sad part about this movie is that is a limited release. Rogers passed away in 2003. It is worth the drive to go see. In each show, Rogers put on a sweater and welcomed you into his house. “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is like that sweater. It wraps itself around you giving you that sense of comfort. Go see this film.
The only theater that is playing "Won't You Be My Neighbor" locally is the Angelika Film Center. It is located at 5321 E. Mockingbird Lane in Dallas.
I give “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” five out of five mustaches.