Looking Back at 2010s Films: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)

8 Oct


By Tanner Smith

Continuing my series of Looking Back at 2010s Films, I’m starting to realize why I’m talking about all of these movies that probably won’t make my best-of-the-2010s list…because LISTS ARE A JOKE!!! They change after time and it’s like others don’t even matter. Well, they matter to me, dammit!

I mean, obviously I’m still going to do it, but…where was I going with this?

Ah whatever, let me just talk about “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” the Oscar-winning documentary…oh, it wasn’t even nominated because the Oscars are a joke. (God bless the Indie Spirits though! Even they knew the Oscars were a joke.)

Obligatory introduction describing the importance of Fred Rogers and his iconic PBS show here…do I even need to go into that? All I can add is I grew up with it. So let’s move on…

I don’t know how people who aren’t familiar with Mr. Rogers would respond to this documentary, but I hope they got a pretty good idea as to how culturally impactful he was to Gen-Xers and Millennials (among others). But for me and most other people who grew up with the show, it’s an excellent companion piece.

To be completely honest, there were three movie moments from 2018 that made me a little teary-eyed (no joke)–one was in ‘Boy Erased,” in which a gay teen received a verbal thrashing at conversion camp; one was in “Wildlife,” as Joe realized his parents’ relationship was done for good; and the other was near the end of “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” as Fred Rogers’ funeral was protested by Westboro Baptist (because what else were those miserable, hate-fueled asses going to fart upon with their spare time?)…and there were children there holding signs as well–one of the interviewees of the documentary took notice that the children didn’t look very happy. That was heartbreaking, especially when you know just how important Fred Rogers was in using television to shape young minds.

“Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” is basically a standard, straightforward biographical documentary about Mr. Rogers, and obviously in terms of filmmaking, it can’t compete with “Free Solo” or “Minding the Gap” (two Oscar-nominated docs that you could argue took more chances than this)…but it’s just so freaking GOOD at being standard and straightforward and respectful and all that! (I doubt it’s possible to make a “negative” film about Mr. Rogers anyway…I mean, unless it was made by one of those jerks who thought Mr. Rogers’ message about children being special meant they didn’t have to achieve anything–weren’t those guys even AWARE of Barney the Dinosaur?)

At least the 34th Film Independent Spirit Awards, who awarded “WYBMN?” the documentary award, knew how special this film was–yet another reason for me to gain more interest in the Indie Spirits than the Oscars.

One Response to “Looking Back at 2010s Films: Won’t You Be My Neighbor? (2018)”


  1. Prepping for My Top 20 Films of the 2010s | Smith's Verdict - November 26, 2019

    […] Identical Strangers,” “Stories We Tell,” “Big Sonia,” “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?,” “Rich Hill,” “Man Shot Dead,” “West of Memphis,” “Love, […]

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