Won't You Be My Neighbor? (2018)
June 11, 2018 9:54 AM - Subscribe

Won't You Be My Neighbor? takes a fittingly patient and honest look at the life and legacy of a television pioneer whose work has enriched generations.

For over thirty years, Fred Rogers, an unassuming minister, puppeteer, writer and producer was beamed daily into homes across America. In his beloved television program, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, Fred and his cast of puppets and friends spoke directly to young children about some of life’s weightiest issues, in a simple, direct fashion. There hadn’t been anything like Mr. Rogers on television before and there hasn’t been since.

Though he may be best known today as a soft-spoken, cardigan-wearing children’s television host, in reality, Fred Rogers’ career represents a sustained attempt to present a coherent, beneficent view about how we should best speak to children about important matters and how television could be used as a positive force in our society.

In Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, Academy Award-winning filmmaker Morgan Neville (Twenty Feet from Stardom) looks back on the legacy of Fred Rogers, focusing on his radically kind ideas. While the nation changed around him, Fred Rogers stood firm in his beliefs about the importance of protecting childhood. Neville pays tribute to this legacy with the latest in his series of highly engaging, moving documentary portraits of essential American artists.
posted by seemoorglass (11 comments total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
This is the only movie I've seen so far in 2018 that I would consider paying full price to watch again in theaters. I laughed, I cried, I was inspired to be a better version of myself, and I learned a lot about Fred Rogers and the depth of his commitment to children's well being. I couldn't recommend this more highly!
posted by seemoorglass at 10:04 AM on June 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

I'm planning on seeing this soon...Given the size of the lump in my throat during the trailer, someone's probably going to have to carry me out of the theater in a bucket.
posted by doctornecessiter at 11:44 AM on June 11, 2018 [2 favorites]

I've been trying to figure out how we can convince the Academy to just call it right now and announce that the Oscar for Best Documentary for this year is going to this film because come on, we all already know that's what's going to happen.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:11 PM on June 11, 2018 [3 favorites]

This is the exact moment my mind was blown in the film - when a staffer at the Fred Rogers Institute said:

"I hear people asking themselves 'what would Mr. Rogers do?' But that's the wrong question. They should be asking: 'What can I do?' "
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:59 AM on June 16, 2018 [4 favorites]

Watching him testify in front of the Congressional hearing at a time when public television was on the brink of having its funding snuffed out so early in its life was really compelling for me. Among many, many moving moments in that film, I think that one will stand out forever to me.
posted by MoonOrb at 5:06 PM on June 30, 2018 [3 favorites]

posted by latkes at 9:31 PM on September 1, 2018 [2 favorites]

on a more intellectual note,I appreciated the subtlety with which his complexities and dare I say flaws were presented. The 143 thing was a really intense suggestion of what was going on inside that man.
posted by latkes at 9:33 PM on September 1, 2018 [1 favorite]

So back in June I posted this - and today I learn that this film was NOT EVEN NOMINATED for Best Documentary.

If you'll excuse me I'm going to go blast "What Do You Do With The Mad That You Feel" on repeat for about 40 minutes.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:24 AM on January 22, 2019 [2 favorites]

"I hear people asking themselves 'what would Mr. Rogers do?' But that's the wrong question. They should be asking: 'What can I do?' "

He really was quite a remarkable man who trusted his own vision, his own instincts, when it came to doing his share of good in the world. That's the real takeaway for me from his life story: not that we should strive to be exactly like him, but that we should work in our own way, with our own talents and our own skills, to make the world a better place, as he did.

The funniest thing in this movie was definitely the tidbit about the puppeteer who had a running gag of secretly adding a picture of his bare ass to any cameras left lying around the set, did it with Rogers' camera once, and waited for months for Fred to mention it... only to be surprised by a poster-size copy of the photo for Christmas. That's fucking inspired one-upsmanship pranking, people.
posted by orange swan at 7:44 PM on April 12, 2019 [1 favorite]

I am Canadian and I never saw Mr. Rogers' show on TV growing up; we had Mr. Dressup. But today I found myself wondering if Mr. Rogers and Ernie Coombs, who played Mr. Dressup, ever met, given that their shows were quite similar in format, and they were very much the same type of man whom I could see getting along extremely well.

I googled, and guess what, Ernie Coombs began his career as an assistant puppeteer on Fred Rogers' first TV show. They became close friends, and when the CBC offered Fred Rogers a show slot in 1963, he invited Coombs to join him. Rogers moved back to the U.S. in 1966, but Coombs chose to stay in Canada for the rest of his life, first working on children's show called Butternut Square as a featured guest character Mr. Dressup, then developing and launching Mr. Dressup in 1967. It ran until Coombs retired in 1996.

Canada had its Mr. Dressup because of Fred Rogers. Damn.
posted by orange swan at 2:02 PM on April 14, 2019 [2 favorites]

I just watched this yesterday and cried like I expected to. I'd always heard about the congressional hearing but had never watched it. I love that the filmmakers allowed that to play out without intercutting with a bunch of commentary. I applauded at the end of it even though I aleady knew what was coming!
posted by acidnova at 9:46 AM on May 28, 2019 [1 favorite]

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