A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood brings kindness and childhood back on the big screen.
Fans and children of all ages have heard about Sesame Street, Thomas and Friends, and even Arthur, but let’s not forget the greatest children’s television show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Marielle Heller (2018’s Can You Ever Forgive Me?) shows up at Mister Rogers’ television house set as the director of the film while Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys portray as an child entertainer Fred Rogers and Lloyd Vogel, an award-winning journalist for Esquire magazine.
The film focuses on cold-hearted journalists Lloyd Vogel who finds his perspective life transformed after he was tasked to interview and to profile the world’s beloved television icon Fred Rogers. Though, the biggest problem Lloyd has recently was a major, struggling relationship with his father, Jerry Vogel (portrayed by Chris Cooper).
With the direction from Marielle Helmer and the script written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on a 1998 Esquire cover story in which Tom Junod, the magazine’s star feature writer, set out to profile Fred Rogers, only to learn that spending time, as an adult, with Mister Rogers was having a profound effect on him. The flow of the story builds up climaxes on how people in real life are dealing with these issues as if a friend is there to assist one’s need. Director Marielle Heller wants to make things simply easier and playful to both children and adults when she shoots the scenes from Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood as if the audience is watching an old episode on television. The director and writers really wanted to make a film that could bring childhood back in front of one’s eyes and learning about kindness and things that are cynically difficult to other people around the globe.
The chemistry between from Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers and Matthew Rhys as Lloyd really gives the audience some sort of a feel that if anyone desperately needs help, a person is here to offer some comfort when these circumstances or issues they been struggling has gone too far from them, such as family issues, anger, divorce, war, and even death. The film, like the show itself as a whole, really explains how difficult it is to recover from these situations in the entire world. Either anger or stress, it doesn’t solve anyone’s problems. The one thing the world needs the most is kindness, which is the medicine of anyone’s dear life. Hanks made his Fred Rogers character fitting like the show and provide the power of love to every moment and every person — because that’s what the child in all of us deserves.
While the film focuses on Fred Rogers and Lloyd Vogel respectively, supporting actors Chris Cooper and Susan Kelechi Watson also appeared as Jerry Vogel: Lloyd’s father and Andrea Vogel: Lloyd’s wife who they served as the primary focus to the Lloyd character, which is the main dynamic and climax of the film. The cast also includes Maryann Plunkett as Joanne Rogers, Fred's wife; Tammy Blanchard as Lorraine, Lloyd's sister; Carmen Cusack as Margy, a producer of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood; Maddie Corman as Betty Aberlin, an actress starring as Lady Aberlin; and Christine Lahti as Ellen, Lloyd's editor. The music from Nate Heller gives a wonderful nostalgic feel and provides a signature twists of childhood with familiar notes to be played in order to get the key correct from the show entirely and the film, especially in the beginning of the film when Fred Rogers sings Won’t You Be My Neighbor? while changing the suit jacket and putting on a sweater in the show’s intro and this film.
Overall, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a wonderful movie to adults and children of all ages. Tom Hanks did a bang-up job on nailing the role as Fred Rogers and same as Marielle Heller as the director of the film. The film gives me a lot of tears and it really lead me to put this film on the top of my list for best films in 2019. The film might be as Oscar worthy as it looks, but I guarantee this one’s a game changer. I would highly recommend watching this movie just as you watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood again on television.
Bonus points for the cameos of Joanne Rogers, the wife of Fred Rogers, and David Newell who portrayed as Mr. McFeely in the series.
(Review by Henry Pham)
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