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Movie Review: "Won't You be my Neighbor?"

My childhood shows were Thundercats, GI Joe, and He-Man. So, my only recollection of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was from what other people would say, and also from satire clips. But the buzz about this new documentary, Won't You be my Neighbor, peaked my interest and I sat down to watch it. Boy, I'm glad I did. This film showcases an ordained ministry who was heading one direction when Fate re-calibrated his compass--and steered him toward television, and ultimately inside the homes of millions of Americans.

 

This documentary relives some of the show's highlights, and takes the viewer on an insightful journey through America's 1960s to our post 9/11 world. It reminds us of how Mr. Rogers presented controversial topics TO KIDS about the Vietnam War, race relations, homosexuality, Bobby Kennedy's assassination, etc.

 

Director Morgan Neville raises tough questions, and then answers them! Was Mr. Roger's a homosexual? Was Mr. Rogers a Navy SEAL? Did Mr. Rogers create an entire generation of whiny kids who feel entitled? I walked away from this film with a deep respect for Mr. Rogers' kindness, steadfast devotion to adding value to children, and his amazing contribution to save PBS from getting cut from President Nixon's budget. It was heartwarming to see Koko the Gorilla's visit to the set, and to also hear from some of the show's characters and behind-the-scenes people.

 

Once they finished taping a scene, Officer Francoise Clemmons said something like: "I felt like you were talking directly to me." And Mr. Rogers replied, "I've been talking to you for two years, but today you heard me." Wow!

 

Check out this terrific documentary about a wonderful human being who had his own struggles and insecurities as an artist, yet kept the faith and stayed the course.

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