A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood review by Bobby Blakey
Throughout the years there have been a ton of children’s programs that helped to shape the youth of that generation, but there are few as beloved as Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. The series ran from 1963 until early 2000 and while it was geared towards the 2-5 year olds it still garnered viewers from all ages. Now oen of the most beloved actors Tom Hanks is taking on the role of the children’s TV icon for the film A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood. The film also stars Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett, Enrico Colantoni and Christine Lahti. Could this film bring Mister Roger’s essence to the big screen or will it be more like a land of make-believe?
A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood follows a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, inspired by the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America's most beloved neighbor. First thing you need to understand when you see this film is that it is not the Fred Roger’s story, but instead about the journalist who was impacted and became friends with him through an interview. Have no fear there is still plenty of Hanks as Fred Rogers and he is as magical as you might expect. He fully embodies Rogers in every sense and will move you as though you are watching the man himself at times.
The main focus is that of journalist Junod renamed Lloyd Vogel for this story. It’s his issues and story that he is doing on Mister Rogers that is the meat of the story all bookended in a strange but awesome way like and episode of Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. The moment the film kicks on you are transported right into the iconic series with Roger’s singing his “beautiful day” song, shot like an
old episode of the series. The story is heartfelt, moving and sometimes strange but works perfectly. Seeing his interactions with Rogers puts you in a place as though you are dealing with these issues and getting to hear advice and support from the easily one of the best human beings to ever walk the planet.
The visuals tell their own story with genius use of elements of the Mister Roger’s Neighborhood for transitions and storytelling. There are some strange and bizarre choices here and there, but they make total sense as the story unfolds. For this film to work you have to believe Hanks is Rogers and there are so many amazing moments where he captures the magic to perfection in yet another brilliant performance. There is one specific moment of silence scene that is so well executed and powerful without a word being spoken that perfectly showcased who Fred Rogers truly was.
I loved this movie and found myself being transported back to my own childhood. Hearing the words of Rogers spoken by Hanks were just as powerful and will no doubt dive deep into your heart and speak to you. Be on the lookout during a diner sequence for cameos from both Joanne Rogers and Mr. McFeely’s himself David Newell that slapped it with the respect it deserved. I know I would love to see Hanks return to the role to tell the full life story of Rogers, but this film jam packs it in through a different sort of story that is satisfying, heartfelt and will keep you smiling from ear to ear, when you are tearing up of course.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including additional scenes, blooper reel, commentary, and featurettes that take you behind bringing this icon to life. Grab your copy of A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood available now on digital, 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD from Sony Home Entertainment.