A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – movie review

By Alexandra Heilbron on November 21, 2019 | 6 Comments


A Beautiful Day in the NeighborhoodA Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – movie review stars Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, the star of the long-running childrens’ program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, but it isn’t technically a biopic. The story actually follows a cynical journalist named Lloyd Vogel, who’s going through a difficult time when he’s given an assignment to write a profile about Fred Rogers for a national magazine.

For audiences who’ve never seen Mr. Rogers’ show, which ran from 1968 to 2001 on PBS, or who haven’t seen the 2018 award-winning documentary about Rogers titled Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, this may be a different experience from those who are familiar with him, although you’ll slowly get to know the television host through Lloyd’s eyes.

I’d never seen Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and although I’d heard of Rogers, I didn’t know what he was all about until I saw the documentary about him last year. It took me by surprise and hopefully this film, if this is your first exposure to Mr. Rogers, will similarly take you by surprise.

I saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood with a large audience, many of whom began sniffling about one-third of the way into the movie. It began with the scene in which Mr. Rogers and Lloyd travel by subway — and what happens when the much-beloved TV host is recognized by children on the subway car.

The movie is loosely based on an Esquire magazine cover story about Fred Rogers, written by journalist Tom Junod. Although Lloyd is based on Junod, much of the story is fictional. However, there are real-life events included in the movie as well, such as the subway scene, which is detailed in the Esquire article.

There are many similarly moving scenes in the movie as we learn more about Lloyd and the anger he’s holding onto from childhood, and we learn how in tune Mr. Rogers is to people’s feelings. He wants to help children most of all, and we see that in several instances, such as when he stops the show to take time to talk to an autistic boy.

When Lloyd is given the assignment at the beginning of the movie, he balks, believing Mr. Rogers is just another entertainer putting on an act. Over the course of the movie, as Lloyd tries to interview Mr. Rogers, he discovers he’s the one being interviewed. Lloyd has a serious issue with his father, played brilliantly by Chris Cooper. Mr. Rogers can see that Lloyd is struggling with something and wants to help him. Although Lloyd tries to turn things around so he can dig deeper into who Mr. Rogers is, he slowly comes to learn about him through his actions, rather than through an interview.

As Mr. Rogers, Tom Hanks is superb. He channels the man, picking up his speaking cadence, his mannerisms and his movements. He shows us Rogers’ inner beauty, his mild-mannered ways, his patience and his determination. The script doesn’t just entertain, it delights and enlightens.

In short, it will provide you with a beautiful time at the movie theater. Click here to watch our interview with Enrico Colantoni, who plays Rogers’ longtime friend/co-worker, Bill Isler.

5 out of 5 stars.

If you have seen A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and would like to rate/review it yourself, click here.



Comments & Discussion

  1. Yvonne Culp • November 21, 2019 @ 1:01 PM

    Hanks portrayal turns my stomach. He makes Mr Roger’s look like a filthy pedophile just in his appearance alone. Poor choice to portray a beloved character.

  2. Marsi • November 21, 2019 @ 3:08 PM

    Did you actually see this movie, Yvonne? Tom does an incredible job at portraying Mister Rogers as a kind, thoughtful caring person. There’s nothing odd about his appearance at all.

  3. Nancy J. Pajunen • November 22, 2019 @ 11:37 AM

    Tom Hanks was a poor choice to play Mr. Rogers. Hanks, in real life, is a politically biased and not so nice person. I can’t get past that in watching him try to play beloved Mr. Rogers. There is no sincerity in him playing the role. Poor, poor casting.

  4. Crissy Kafer • November 23, 2019 @ 9:21 AM

    Was shocked at the differing opinions of this flick… Am not a fan of Hanks, but he IS a good actor and I will form my own opinion today when I see for myself, while ignoring his politics!!

  5. Peter Ashlock • November 23, 2019 @ 5:32 PM

    Judging an artist and the artists output by his physical appearance and personal values (politics) mostly reflects negatively on the person making the judgment, it has nothing to do with their ability to perform a skill, whether it be acting, singing, playing a musical instrument or art making in some genre. Tom Hanks played Walt Disney in the film about his acquisition of Mary Poppins, a man whose politics and most of the output of his mega corporation which I found utterly distasteful (to say nothing of his dumbing down and bowdlerizing of classic children’s literature), but Hanks was a logical choice and played him well. Without even having seen the film about Mr.Rogers I can readily grasp why he was chosen for the role. No one cares if you don’t like his politics and to suggest that Mr. Rogers was a pedophile is sort of like suggesting that Donald Trump is the equivalent of Hitler. It is completely misplaced and inappropriate. Sorry, you lost me.

  6. GD • November 23, 2019 @ 6:06 PM

    Yvone is dead wrong and probably hasn’t even seen the film. Tom Hanks captures the very essence of Mr. Rogers and what drove him. At times you feel as though you are not watching an actor trying to act like someone else. He becomes the man. That’s the ultimate thing any actor can acheive with a piece like this. The film will touch even the coldest of hearts and affect you positively in a variety of ways and leave you still thinking about the lessons it imparts. As far as the filthy pedophile comment goes that’s bizarre and Hanks looks nor acts anything but in the film. People owe it to themselves to see it. You can bet come Golden Globes nominations on December 9th and Oscar noms on January 9th that Hanks and the film will figure prominently.

  7. Sharon • November 25, 2019 @ 4:26 PM

    This was one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. Tom did a superb job in portraying Mr. Rogers. And I just heard that he is distantly related to him. I truly believe that this movie can help people who are struggling with anger issues. You can see and feel Fred’s compassion for people, and he gives some good suggestions for dealing with anger. I never watched his show growing up but I did hear negative comments about him by people who did not understand him or his ways. After watching the movie, I want to watch it again, and I want to watch the old episodes of the show. There’s a song that Harry Chapin had written called, “I Wonder What Would Happen To This World”. Some of the lyrics jumped out at me after watching this movie. The lyrics are: “Now if a man tried to take his time on earth and prove before he died what one man’s life could be worth, well I wonder what would happen to this world?”. If people would treat each other as Fred did, our world would be a much better place.


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