Vol. 11, No. 20 – July 4 – July 17, 2018 – Movie Review

Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
3 Palm Trees out of 4

by Manuel reynoso

Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is a 2018 documentary film directed by Morgan Neville and edited by Jeff Malmberg and Aaron Wickenden. The film about the life of Fred Rogers and the themes of his television show.

A documentary on the life of a truly wholesome individual. Every minute of it is a bombardment of one man’s sentimentality and passion for children. I’ve haven’t seen so much hope and so much inspiration emitting from a single person. While he was fallible and with his own moments of weakness, he set his course in life to be the best person he could be for the sake of children everywhere. With this much positivity, I have to ask, where are all these tears coming from?

Now maybe I’m overly sensitive, but that can’t explain the sniffles I heard all throughout the theater. No, this documentary was something special. So much of it was spent talking about feelings, whether those of Mr. Fred Rogers or the feelings of children. It really is special to see so much respect for something that isn’t taken seriously so much of the time. It touches people, and it left both me and my girlfriend a quivering mess. That’s where the power in this documentary lies, in its ability to reach others and remind ourselves of the vulnerability of childhood.

All this wouldn’t have been possible without some really impressive technical know-how. Editing tends to be what carries a documentary, and Won’t You Be My Neighbor has some really impressive editing from beginning to end. It’s carries the familiar fast pace editing style of a documentary while also having a patient and methodical rhythm to it. While these two styles feel like they should be at odds with each other, it ends up delivering the soft and patient feel we associate with Mr. Rogers. It’s that success that makes this documentary so pleasant and easy to watch.

As for the documentary itself, it’s absolutely interesting. Whether you grew up with Mr. Rogers in your household or not, the man really leaves a colossal impression on you. All of his triumphs, his losses, and his insecurities are all laid out for you in a deeply personal story, that at times may come off a tad bit aggrandizing. It’s also very safe with the content it shares. Lots of what the film goes over has already been highlighted before. So previous fans of Mr. Rogers may see a lot of what they have already known.

Won’t You Be My Neighbor really boils down to a feel good documentary. To the point where it might even leave you in tears. It’s not groundbreaking, but it is still an exceptional piece of work. There is so much to love about Fred Rogers, and whether you already fell in love with his quirky, quiet demeanor, or you are learning about him for the first time, there is something for everyone to love in this film. Rated PG-13 1h34m

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