Won’t You Be My Neighbor?
Directed by Morgan Neville
Mister Rogers reconsidered
The new documentary about TV’s Mister Rogers “will make even the most flint-hearted cynic shed a tear,” said Peter Keough in The Boston Globe. To Fred Rogers (1928–2003), television was an ideal medium for teaching young kids about love as well as life’s difficult truths, and though any portrait of the soft-spoken children’s show host will thus flirt with sentimentality, this artful film sidesteps sap by being as guileless as its subject was. Behind his milquetoast appearance, Rogers was actually “quietly radical,” said Ann Hornaday in The Washington Post. A husband, father, and Presbyterian minister, he created a show built on groundbreaking findings in child psychology, and he also taught his young viewers to question the consumerism and violence celebrated elsewhere on the dial. The film gets much of its power from the revelation that Rogers, late in life and particularly after 9/11, grew increasingly pessimistic—doubting that his efforts to create a better world had done any good, said Aisha Harris in Slate.com. “One can only imagine how he might feel if he were around today.” Though Fred Rogers may seem out of place in 2018, “that only makes this movie more timely.”
Disney/Pixar/AP, Warner Bros./AP, John Beale ■