“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is a biographical drama film…sort of. The late Fred Rogers is featured as played by Tom Hanks, but the journalist assigned to profile him as really at the center. This is a pretty unique way to reexamine the life and messages of Mr. Rogers. Marielle Heller is the director who brings to life the script written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster. It was based on an article written by Tom Junod in 1998 which was published by the magazine, Esquire.
Tom Hanks dons the familiar sneakers and red sweater as Mr. Rogers. Matthew Rhys is the journalist who is named Lloyd Vogel in the film. Vogel is struggling with a lot of resentment toward his father over some serious past transgressions, and it is affecting his relationship with his wife and their newborn son. Chris Cooper, Christine Lahti, and Maryann Plunkett are also part of the cast.
The film does present the life and wisdom of Fred Rogers in a rather creative manner. Rogers is sort of relegated as a supporting presence in the film at times but a profound one. Anyway, most of this works quite well. Hanks does well in his depiction of Fred Rogers, which is impressive since he does not really resemble the real Mr. Rogers without a lot of help from the make-up department. He sure made me regret not following Mr. Rogers more closely when he was alive. The other cast members did fine too, There was also some pretty slick visual effects with scene changes that were done in a manner which could have been seen in “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”.
The movie was quite charming and poignant at the same time. Although it could have stood more exploration of Rogers’ faith and philosophy, I think it was likely a very fair and loving depiction of a man with a singular mission to use television as a means to reach and comfort children in a world that can often be dark and confusing.
This is not my usual genre of preference when it comes to my film viewing, but I was glad to see this one. I was quite curious to see how this would turn out when I heard about it, and I think it Fred Rogers would have been pleased with the result as well.