Movie Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Movie Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Mister Rogers' Neighborhood was a beloved children's television series, and I grew up watching his show. Won't You Be My Neighbor?, a documentary about him, was released last year, and it was pretty interesting; I learned a few facts about him that I didn't know. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood chooses to focus on one particular time in his life, and it splits its time between his life and that of the journalist interviewing him.

Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys, The Americans) is in a weird place in life right now. He and his wife, Andrea (the excellent Susan Kelechi Watson, This is Us) have just had a baby, and his father, Jerry (Chris Cooper), has popped up out of nowhere, after being absent for most of Lloyd's life. Lloyd writes for Esquire magazine, and they are doing a short "puff piece" on heros; his editor assigns him a 400-word piece on Mister Rogers, which he kind of scoffs at, since he normally does investigative journalism. However, the more time he spends with Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), the more intrigued he is by him, and Lloyd's hard shell starts to soften, as well.

Tom Hanks was excellent in this role—but that didn't surprise me, because honestly, he's fantastic in every movie he's in. Some of his mannerisms were uncannily "Mister Rogers," so I'm willing to bet he studied many episodes of the show. Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper, and the supporting cast were also very good here, Cooper especially.

Yes, definitely see this movie, especially if you've ever watched Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. In a weird way, I left the movie feeling kind of sad, and I think the reason for that was because Mister Rogers truly was one of a kind, and there really aren't any TV shows on the air today that are comparable. At the screening I attended, there was a foreword by his wife, Joanne Rogers (who is 91 years old!), and you'll want to keep an eye out for her in a cameo role later in the film, as well. If you grew up with Mister Rogers' Neighborhood like I did, or even if you were a parent who watched it with your children, you will enjoy this film, and I hope that Tom Hanks receives some award nominations for his role.

{And if you are interested in reading the original article that Lloyd Vogel wrote on Mister Rogers, you can find it here.}

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is currently playing in theaters, and is rated PG with a runtime of 108 minutes. 4 stars out of 5.

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