A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood stars Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers, and there has never been more perfect casting.
It’s hard to find anyone that doesn’t like Mister Rogers. For decades Fred Rogers used his show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, to teach children numerous lessons on life and everything they experience. His show grew thanks to Fred’s dedication to being honest and real with children, and to never speak down to them. He understood that children feel complex emotions, just as adults do, and it can be hard for them to understand and process those feelings. A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood, from Director Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?), acts as an episode of Mister Rogers’ show, but this time for adults.
The film follows journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) as he profiles Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) for Esquire magazine. Lloyd is a cynic with an award-winning career in investigative journalism. As Lloyd is assigned the profile on Mister Rogers, his estranged father comes back into his life, begging to reconnect. Lloyd does his best to avoid his father as he tries to learn more about Mister Rogers. The film moves forward in a way which you could likely predict but does so in a heartwarming and truly touching way.
The film is predictable, and at first that predictability made me unsure of how I felt about the film. What use is a film about Mister Rogers, where we know what will likely happen and already have the wonderful documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? I gave myself some time to process it, and I realized that the film is important for the same reason Mister Rogers’ show was important. We’re constantly flooded with content that is nothing but cynical and explosive. Especially given the current streaming wars, and the excessive amount of TV shows and films being produced on a weekly basis. Sometimes it’s important for us to have these small reminders that the simple and heartwarming stories deserve our attention as well.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is exactly the film you expect it to be. It doesn’t take risks, and it doesn’t have any big major twists. It’s the kind of film that will pull you in and make you feel something deeply joyful. It’s something that does ask you to assess your emotions, to realize that you are a human being who feels things, and is allowed to feel those things. We often get caught up in the ways of the world, and the expectations we have for ourselves, and forget that we are human. We forget that we have deeply profound emotions, and are able to give into those emotions in a healthy way when necessary. That’s what Mister Rogers wanted us to remember, and that’s what Beautiful Day reminds us of.
The film may not be a flashy and exciting expose, and it may be a story that you expect from the start. But it’s something that we still need, especially in the world we live in today. Beyond that, the performances by Rhys, Hanks, and the rest of the cast, are top notch and deserve your attention. Hanks especially knocks it out of the park as Fred Rogers. There’s intricacies to well loved man, that are easy to overlook, but Hanks nails them in a way where you forget that he’s Tom Hanks and fall in love with him as Fred Rogers. It’s a perfect performance that helps guide a truly beautiful film.
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is currently playing in theaters. Get tickets here.