The Neighbor
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The Neighbor

The Neighbor in the 15 years since Fred Rogers died, the television pioneer has enjoyed a second life as an internet The Neighbor celebrity. At least once or twice a year, usually during another of the federal government’s endless debates about budgetary priorities, someone will dig up and pass around the video of “Mister Rogers” testifying before Congress about the necessity of funding PBS. Or in the wake of any tragedy or disaster, people almost reflexively share his simple advice to “look for the helpers.” Between all the memes, clips, and urban legends, Rogers long ago stopped being a real person, at least in the public eye. He’s more of an ideal.

There’s a lot to like about Morgan Neville’s moving, inspiring new documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor?; but the film’s one major flaw is that it can’t quite bring its subject back down to Earth. That’s not for lack of trying. Neville talks to just about everybody alive who knew Fred Rogers intimately: his wife, his two sons, his longtime casts and crews on the PBS series Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. They all share anecdotes about how, yes, Rogers could be cranky sometimes, and yes, he was known to laugh at a dirty joke. But more often, everyone speaks in awed tones about a man who practiced what he preached: greeting each new day with wonder, always endeavoring to treat other people kindly.

Duration: 105 min

Release:

IMDb: 4.9