This is a documentary about the late Fred Rogers, arguably the most likable person who has ever been on TV. Fred Rogers was in real life exactly as he appeared on his PBS show, where all he cared about was helping children. Very few have ever had the talents to make people feel better about their life, maybe less unhappy, less nervous, but Fred Rogers had the innate ability to make everybody who saw his show feel just a little bit better. In the audience I was in, some people were weeping because they were so moved by the niceness and human decency in Fred Rogers just watching the tapes of some of the many shows he did on PBS. At one point, Rogers decided to take a break from his show, hoping he could reinvent himself trying to help adults, some of whom were in prison – but he was not as adept at that aspect of relating to people. Rogers even tried to help children get through death, divorce, bullying and even the 911 tragedy with his show.
What amazed me the most about this very good documentary that has a 99% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes is that even a guy as nice as Fred Rogers did not escape the stupid criticism of some critics – who accused him of being responsible all the ills of the current generation of children because he told them that they were all special. Rogers believed that we are all special in the eyes of God, but the cruel and stupid critics thought that this gave too many children an excuse not to work hard. Obviously, this criticism is even more cruel than it is completely idiotic but its also part of being in the public eye. This shows that in this world, no matter what you do, there is always someone close by just waiting his or her turn to knock you down and make you feel bad about yourself. As Rogers himself said in this documentary – “people who go out of their way to knock other people down are the very essence of evil”. All of us have met people like this in our life and careers – including me. Its part of life, an unfortunate reality.
“Won’t you be my Neighbor” gets my highest recommendation.