A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
I loved the heartfelt documentary that we saw recently about the live and genuine personality of Fred Rogers. It covered so much about a television icon and was an enlightening look at what made him such a cherished figure. When I heard Marielle Heller (who did a great job with Can You Ever Forgive Me? and Diary of a Teenage Girl), I became super excited. Also, Tom Hanks, America’s favorite Hollywood Icon starring as Mr. Rogers? Sign me up. This turned out to be a rather wonderful viewing.
The film follows the life of Lloyd Vogel, who is a journalist for Esquire. He has a very strained relationship with his father and this seeps into his life. He is tasked by his employer to get an interview with Mr Rogers, star of a child friendly TV show. Upon meeting him, he realizes that Mr Rogers is a much more complex person than he initially thought, and Lloyd receives introspection into his own troubled life, all with the help of Fred Rogers.
I loved the presentation of this film. A chunk of it recreates authentic looking sets from Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and even presents itself in his TV show format. Heller takes liberties with creativity and it works. Tom Hanks is so excellent as Fred Rogers, he disappears into the role and really transports you into the life of the beloved icon. Matthew Rhys also turns in an emotionally pained performance, its just great all around. There are lagging moments as the film carries on but its not much of a bother because of all the intriguing things going on.
This isn’t that much a Mr Roger’s biopic. Which is actually great, because the documentary did a good job of detailing his life already. This is more the character story of a journalist as he changes his outlook on life with the inspiration of Fred Rogers. Its about the impact that Mr. Rogers has on people of all ages. His words of wisdom, creativity, and kind soul endure through decades and generations and I really appreciate that we were able to see this film.