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  • Chad Womack

Chad Reviews "Won't You Be My Neighbor?"

It’s an odd feeling when you can say that a person that you have never met has had such a huge influence what kind a person you became, not just when it comes to a career path or what college you enroll in, but those who help define the kind of person that you aspire to be like. Growing up in the ‘70s, I had a steady diet of educational/children’s programming courtesy of PBS’ Dallas affiliate, KERA. The mainstays were “Sesame Street” (which nurtured me through my preschool years and cultivated my thirst for reading and vocabulary), “The Electric Company” (which had a similar style but appealed to a slighter older audience, and Morgan Freeman), and last but ABSOLUTELY not least was “Mister Roger’s Neighborhood,” which taught both delightful and painful life lessons through the wise and optimistic eyes of its host and creator, Fred Rogers. This remarkable man is the subject of the equally remarkable documentary from Academy Award winning filmmaker Morgan Neville, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

Focusing on Rogers and the iconic children’s program that he worked so hard to create, this film reveals an incredibly passionate man who very closely resembles the man on screen in the comfy sweater and sneakers, spinning tales of wisdom and transporting the audience to his land of make believe whose puppets (voiced by Fed himself) reinforced those lessons of tolerance, love, patience, and understanding. With an uncompromised set of moral values that threaded through everything he did and every person he interacted with, Fred Rogers was a man fully and completely devoted to enhancing the lives of children in every way possible, and this film encapsulates it beautifully.

No documentary film I have seen in recent memory has had the profound and personal effect on me as “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Fred Rogers’ legacy shows the type of person that everyone should aspire to be more like, and this film gives us that much needed intimate look at who he was and why he was so incredibly motivated to do what he did. It’s a true love letter to a remarkable man and the influence he left behind; not just in his work but also in the people he dealt along the way all the way down to a guy in Dallas typing up a review for a film that brought him to tears on multiple occasions. I am thankful that I had the chance to experience a truly magnificent human being and for seeing this film that will help keep him alive for a while new generation. Thank you for everything Fred; I truly appreciate and love you for that.

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