Review: “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

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Eric Cropper

Tom Hanks embodied the spirit of Mr. Rogers when taking on the role of Fred Rogers in the film, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”

Eric Cropper, Staff Writer

 

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is a touching film detailing the relationship between journalist, Tom Junod, and beloved children’s show host, Fred Rogers. “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” aired for over 30 years, premiering in 1968 and ending in 2001. Rogers tackled real life issues such as divorce, and the death of family members along with pets, but used music and a soft voice to connect with generations of children. He motivated kids to be kind to one another, preaching individuality and love for one another. Rogers was a native of Pennsylvania and a Presbyterian minister. He is portrayed by beloved actor Tom Hanks who recently found out that he and Mr. Rogers are sixth cousins. The film premiered on November 22. 

The movie is about Tom Junod, whose name was changed to Lloyd Vogel in the movie. Vogel is a journalist who wrote for Esquire magazine. He was assigned the task of writing a profile on Fred Rogers. While writing the feature, Vogel’s perspective on life changed as he saw the way Rogers would go about his day full of kindness and love. Vogel’s feature article titled “Can you Say… Hero” is a touching dive into the daily life of Mr. Rogers. The article describes his visit to a child suffering with cerebral palsy, who is a fan of the show, but was suicidal and hated himself because of his condition. Upon his visit to the child, Rogers watched him get mad and began hitting himself because of the emotion associated with meeting his hero. The boy calmed down and Rogers asked the boy to pray for him. This small gesture changed the boy’s life. He was no longer suicidal and believed that Mister Rogers was on his side and because of this, God was also. Another event detailed in the feature was when Mr. Rogers arrived at Penn Station to look at the massive clock designed by architect Maya Lin. As he exited his car he was noticed, and the crowd was sent into a frenzy. Not only the children who watched his show were excited to see him, but their parents who had grown up watching him were starstruck. He was surrounded by fans who hugged him and reached out to touch him. People were thanking him for the effect he had on them and the way he made them feel.  Some fans were moved to tears, which were wiped away by Rogers. The feature written by Vogel shows the immense effect Rogers had on generations of people, and the process of its writing is the focal point of the film. 

The movie surrounds the time spent between Vogel and Rogers in which Vogel writes his feature, following Rogers around and learning about his life and the way he conducts himself. Vogel has grown up with anger issues and continuing issues with an estranged father.  He has recently become a dad to a baby boy. He watches Rogers film his children’s show and listens to the life lessons taught by Rogers such as how to deal with frustration and forgiveness. His time with Rogers changes Vogel’s outlook on life, no longer is he an unhappy grump. He begins to see the world with kindness and becomes a much happier person. He forgives his dad and becomes the father his son Gavin needs and the husband his wife deserves. 

The movie is an absolute masterpiece, not only is casting magnificent but the development of the characters and the plot is great. One of televisions most beloved personalities Tom Hanks does a fantastic job in portraying Rogers and the development and changes of Lloyd Vogel are portrayed beautifully by Matthew Rhys. The movie is touching and left some viewers in tears. Steve Pond of the entertainment news source “The Wrap” states “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood finds a gentle state of grace and shows the courage and smarts to stay in that zone, never rushing things or playing for drama.” The entertainment review source Rotten Tomatoes has rated the film a 97%. The film could not premiere at a better time, we are divided, and this movie teaches acceptance and love and should be seen by all.