Won't You Be My Neighbor?

From the charming opening scenes to the sweet finale (bring a tissue), I was enthralled by the iconic Mr. Rogers. As I rarely watched television, I had never seen an episode so I have lived in a cultural void.

Director Morgan Neville ("30 Feet From Stardom") adds another distinctive documentary to his body of work. He does it through flashbacks, archives, interviews and news clippings. He brings to life the singular man who was an ordained Presbyterian minister, father, husband, musician, friend and neighbor to millions.

Some of the things I learned about Mr. Rogers:
  • He objected to "pie-in-the-face" comedy
  • He was opposed to violent children's television
  • He favored a simple set
  • He was convinced that each child had a "real relationship" with him
  • He honored silence: he set an egg timer for a minute and demonstrated
  • He illustrated how integration worked in a very practical way
  • He was lifetime friends with artists such as Yo Yo Ma
  • He explained tragedies such as the Challenger disaster
  • He was intolerant of intolerance.
Mr. Rogers (his real name) was from a wealthy family and was a pudgy little boy. He understood bullying from personal experience. He respected children and they recognized his respect and affection. Watch the looks on their faces. His interview with the little boy in the wheelchair is a classic.
He accepted that his stardom made him a target for ridicule and satire. Watch Eddie Murphy, Johnny Carson and Jim Carrey each take a shot.

Please see this movie. It's only a bit over an hour and a half and you'll remember it for a long time.
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Here is a preview:
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