A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood has the Right Focus
As I discovered last year with the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor, Mr. Rogers has a calming and cathartic effect on me; in Marielle Heller’s* A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, it seems that Tom Hanks playing Mr. Rogers has the same effect. I think this movie was wise to avoid the biopic treatment and instead frame the story around a journalist who has a lot of problems which lets us substitute our own selves in for him as Fred Rogers takes an interest. It’s also full of actors I love to watch** and includes many memorable scenes.***
The verdict: Good
Cost: $9.75 (I didn’t plan well. I could have seen this at the Jubitz theater for $6)
Where watched: Living Room Theater (Part I of New Year’s Eve Double Feature!)
Consider also watching:
*This film follows Heller’s excellent Can You Ever Forgive Me? which was her second feature after her incredibly enjoyable debut The Diary of a Teenage Girl. All of these films are worth your time. And hopefully Heller will continue directing films every other year or so.
**I’m always up for Chris Cooper and Enrico Colantoni (Keith Mars!) and though I wasn’t familiar with them I thought Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson and Maryann Plunkett were excellent.
***Some of which show up in the article that is featured in the film and which you can read. My favorite scene though, was Fred and Joanne Rogers playing a duet on the twin grand pianos in their home.
- What is it about Mr. Rogers that elicits such feelings?
- What’s your favorite Mr. Rogers moment?
Favorite IMDB trivia item:
This movie is based on the article “Can You Say…’Hero’?” by Tom Junod, which was published in the November 1, 1998, issue of Esquire Magazine. In 2019, before the release of this film, Junod wrote an article in The Atlantic that was partly about this process. It started, “A long time ago, a man of resourceful and relentless kindness saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself. He trusted me when I thought I was untrustworthy, and took an interest in me that went beyond my initial interest in him. He was the first person I ever wrote about who became my friend, and our friendship endured until he died. Now a movie has been made from the story I wrote about him, which is to say ‘inspired by’ the story I wrote about him, which is to say that in the movie my name is Lloyd Vogel and I get into a fistfight with my father at my sister’s wedding. I did not get into a fistfight with my father at my sister’s wedding. My sister didn’t have a wedding.”
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