Because, let’s be honest, we are not going to be calling this movie by its name. I watched the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? and got a better insight into the man that Mr. Rogers was. To us as kids, he was the guy who came in, took off his jacket and changed his shoes to take us on an adventure into the imagination land and through his neighborhood. He falls in the same category as Dr. Seuss and Blue’s Clues. This is my childhood.
In this movie, we meet Lloyd Vogul (Matthew Rhys) who is a journalist for Esquire magazine who is assigned to profile Rogers. Over the course of the movie, it seems that Rogers ends up being a beacon of hope and almost like a father figure for Vogul. Vogul seems to be in a place of confusion and anger for some reason and Rogers’ calming demeanor centers him.
As children, we always felt safe with Mr. Rogers. He always told us he was an adult but he had a childlike personality that made us feel like he was one of us without being one of us. (If that makes any sense.) Personally, I’m excited to see how Mr. Rogers impacted this man’s life. In watching the documentary, it was evident that Rogers had a major impact on the people who worked with him and not only because they worked with him but because he cherished his employees. The one sentiment that I remember from the doc was the interview with François Clemmons AKA Officer Clemmons. Clemmons, if you don’t remember, was black and later revealed (not on the show), to be gay. Right now on social media, the still from the episode where Fred and Officer Clemmons put their feet together in a baby pool is circulating. Unbeknownst to us, this was a revolutionary episode and Rogers knew it. Never had there been something like this done on television, and with kids at that, ever before. Two people of different races can share a baby pool of water because it was hot and there be nothing wrong. Later, Clemmons would say that he sensed Rogers had some animosity towards because he was gay until one day he told him he loved Clemmons in a scene. Clemmons asked Rogers, in a sense, if he meant what he said and Rogers replied, “Yes. I love everyone including you.” (Or something like that.) For someone like Clemmons, a member of the LGBTQ community, that comment meant the world to him.
Rogers only wanted to make his show great for the kids. He didn’t care about ratings or adults. His concern was the kids and that’s what makes this man so loved.
This movie will:
- Make you cry
- Make you cry
- Make you cry and maybe have the urge to hug someone in the theater or your neighbor at home.
I think this film is going to challenge our humanity and bring us back to our childhood. Think about how much we’ve changed since we were kids? We’re angrier, or jaded, sadder. What happened to those days of sitting in front of the TV with a bowl of Fruity Pebbles? This is what that film will do for us as adult. Bring us right back in front of the TV, with that bowl of Fruity Pebbles in Imagination Land.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood premieres on November 22. Bring tissues and a neighbor.