A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

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Photo from ABC News

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood follows Esquire journalist, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), when he is assigned to profile Mister Rogers (Tom Hanks) as his estranged father (Chris Cooper) has recently came back into his life.

I really responded to this film, though I know not everyone will. This is not a movie about Mister Rogers, but rather a film about Mister Rogers’ impact on a journalist. The protagonist’s struggles are conventional and the plot can be a bit predictable. But that doesn’t mean that it’s not a personal and relatable story, in fact this is a story about fatherhood and forgiveness.

The structure of the film is definitely unique, the movie is filmed like it takes place in an episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. And that really helps the film stand out from the other biopics and “Based on a True Story” movies.

As a sort of cynical person, I could very much relate to Lloyd and would also probably find Mr. Rogers to be a bit annoying. Before seeing the film, I didn’t know what to expect from Rhys as the protagonist, but he does an excellent job carrying the film. However, Tom Hanks as Mister Rogers perfectly embodies this icon. My favorite shots of the film are of him behind the scenes with his puppets as the camera slowly zooms in on his face. There are many moments of the film were you are just memorized by the words and mannerisms of Mister Rogers.

Something that I’m glad this film touched on that last year’s documentary, Won’t You Be My Neighbor, also touched on is that Mister Rogers is not the perfect person. He has his own struggles and he doesn’t share them with others. And the last shot of the film really hits on that point.

Marielle Heller does an excellent job directing this film and I hope she gets some recognition this awards season. Undoubtedly Hanks will get most of the attention, his portrayal of Mister Rogers really was wonderful, but she was the standout of this film to me.

Overall, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a heartwarming film that can also be a bit conventional in terms of plot, though the structure and direction help elevate the film. Hank is perfectly casting choice as Mister Rogers and he once again reminds us what an important figure Mister Rogers was.

I give A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood a B+

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