Won’t You Be My Neighbor?

Truly Real Person


08 June 2018| No Comments on Won’t You Be My Neighbor?     by Sean Chavel



Emotionally enveloping. We live in a time when it’s mission impossible to find a human being as much a genuine article as Fred Rogers, and that feeling is even more reconfirmed while watching the documentary of his life Won’t You Be My Neighbor? Nearly six decades are deftly covered, with incredibly survived archive footage that is interspersed with retrospective interviews with people who knew Fred Rogers closely. Rogers had left traditional church leadership to work on his brainchild “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” which for decades played to entertain and educate, and not insult, its young TV audience.

There are many wonderful people today that I look up to. But even then, I know those people I love have their bad days or skeletons in the closet. What’s remarkable about Fred Rogers was that he never seemed to have a bad day where he was surly, not even curt with others. The hardest criticism is that he had a few days here or there where he was hard on himself. He could not always put in the perspective of his accomplishments, such as saving PBS all on his own and bridging the gap of racism in this country.

I loved it when “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” plays old clips of its on-air episodes, and has interviewees share their memories. In fact, my only problem is that this documentary is a tad too short and I felt gypped a small handful of times when it brushed over its episodes too quickly. Mr. Rogers had a week devoted to children dealing with their parents divorce in his episodes? A week devoted to getting over their pets’ death? I could have used another minute on each subject.

I’ve seen some radical documentaries of late, and here is one that is mostly life-affirming and the target audience wants to feel good in revisiting that old show they grew up with. What’s amazing is the documentary is frank with the number of nutjobs who devised hateful reasons to criticize Fred Rogers. Seems like there will always be a few contrarians, anywhere you look in this world, who look at a genuine article and find absurd reasons to find something terrible there. I’m looking at Fred Rogers, and in 2018 it’s the perfect time to get him as this antidote to our times, and see a kind of noble perfection.

94 Minutes. Unrated.


Film Cousins:  “Blast From the Past” (1999); “Twenty Feet from Stardom” (2013); “Life Itself” (2014); “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography” (2017).

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Sean Chavel

About The Author / Sean Chavel

Sean Chavel is a Hollywood based author and movie reviewer. He is the Executive Director of flickminute.com, a new website that has adapted the movie review site genre by introducing moodbased and movie experience based reviews.


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