Verdict: A wholesome display of the life-changing power of Fred Rogers’ kindness.
Although Fred Rogers may no longer be around, he still remains a beloved American icon. The host of the children’s show, Mister Rogers Neighborhood, he was an embodiment of goodness. In 2018, the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? about his life and legacy swept up acclaim and awards. Now, we have Tom Hanks portraying him in A Beautiful Neighborhood and the film has already made waves internationally.
What’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood About:
Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is an investigative journalist who is assigned to do a profile on the beloved American children’s television show host Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks). Struggling with troubles in his own personal life like his differences with his long-absent father (Chris Cooper), Lloyd is skeptical of Fred Rogers’s relentless positivity. He decides to delve deeper to find out whether his television persona from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood is real or a facade.
Even though it’s based on the real-life friendship of Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod who wrote the article Can You Say… Hero, this film does not simply retrace real-life events. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood hits harder than a typical biopic because it’s structured like an episode of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood. This works well in the context of the film – Lloyd Vogel is introduced as a friend, the location shots are from model towns, and there’s even a dream sequence that features the characters as a part of the show.
There couldn’t have been a better actor to portray Fred Rogers. Tom Hanks not only mirrors the way the beloved icon spoke but he also matches his mannerisms. Matthew Rhys provides the perfect foil and the contrast between the two characters makes this film stand out. It’s humorous in parts and in others, it’s emotionally touching. With Lloyd as the protagonist, there’s a character arc that wouldn’t have been possible with Fred Rogers at the film’s center. Lloyd’s fears and emotional troubles make the film relatable. There’s darkness in the world and the film addresses it and encourages positive ways to embrace it. Director Marielle Heller‘s unique approach is constantly delightful in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
What Could’ve Been Better:
While A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is more impactful to the people familiar with Fred Rogers, it still manages to convey its message to those who might not know him or his show.
Why You Should Watch:
It’s refreshing to see Fred Rogers’ way of the world receiving attention amidst the darker and grittier topics that Hollywood is covering these days. Watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood for Tom Hanks’ stellar performance. He’s already received a SAG, Golden Globe, BAFTA, and Oscar nominations for his supporting role in the film. It’s a heart-touching film that you’ll be glad to see.