Won't You Be My Neighbor? Movie Review
A documentary came out earlier this year and blew audiences away because it was about Mr. Rogers and Mr. Rogers is all about love and compassion and Donald Trump isn’t so fuck Trump and all that jazz, but Won’t You Be My Neighbor? is unfortunately just your regular neighborhood documentary, a familiar and friendly jaunt that is unable to take any risks due to its subject matter.
It’s a fine little analysis of Fred Rogers, his philosophy on life and at least a snapshot of some of the things that troubled him. Filmmaker Morgan Neville, who made the equally good but low risk doc 20 Feet from Stardom, does a quality job of collating archival footage and interviews with friends and family members to form a comprehensive look of the man.
Am I supposed to go, ‘Wow, what an amazing documentary!’?
There just isn’t anything here to evoke anything close to such a reaction. Most people, myself included, have fond memories of Mr. Rogers, and his dedication to inclusion and appreciation of others is notable in a time when our president is apathetic if not antagonistic to such ideals. For those reasons, Won’t You Be My Neighbor? struck a chord.
But there just isn’t anything substantial here, nothing of remarkable note or revelation to be had. That’s just fine—it doesn’t appear Mr. Rogers had a dark side nor would I want my memory of him to be tarnished by such—but it’s hard to make a compelling documentary when your subject is exactly who everyone remembered him to be.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.