MR. ROGERS' NEIGHBORHOOD — Mr. Rogers is a staple in many of our childhoods.
Even if you didn’t watch the show or enjoy it that much, you knew who he was. And despite thinking that you were too cool to like such a lame show, you sat down and watched a few episodes and felt connected to the man in the cardigan.
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" is a new film starring Tom Hanks as the iconic Fred Rogers, and it really is a beautiful movie.
There is something intangibly wonderful about the movie, much like Rogers’ show. Here are a few reasons you should make "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" your neighbor:
Tom Hanks is Fred Rogers
Rogers didn’t play a character on TV. Rather, he just put himself on the screen. The man was genuine, kind, sincere and made you want to be the best version of yourself. Hanks captures much of that same magic, and viewers will quickly forget they’re watching one of the most famous actors on the planet. You soon accept the fact you’re watching the one and only Mr. Rogers.
Hanks doesn’t try to mimic Rogers with the sound of his voice or even his movements, but rather captures the character with his speaking tone and his gentle nature.
Hanks becomes Rogers through his essence rather than through an uncanny likeness. This film makes you fall in love with Hanks all over again for his brilliant work.
Director Marielle Heller creates magic
You may not be very familiar with Heller’s work, but you soon will be. The director creates magic in "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" and I really think you need to experience the film to completely comprehend what I mean.
Heller has created a beautifully quiet film, much like Rogers’ original show. She has managed to take this heavy and nuanced story about a man and his own demons and still make it light, touching and accessible. Sound familiar?
Heller has taken a story that features Fred Rogers in a secondary role that has real situations and is geared towards adults, and she handles it with the same gentle and candid hands Fred Rogers did with his television show.
Don’t take that as an admission that the movie is slow and boring, because that is not the case. Rather, it’s intriguing, touching, heartbreaking and triumphant. Heller needs to be recognized for her work here, and I’m excited for all of you to see her beautiful work. I can’t wait to see what she does next.
It’s a tearjerker for all the right reasons
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" is an emotional movie. As I mentioned earlier this is not a movie about Fred Rogers. Instead it’s a movie about a broken man, played exceptionally well by Matthew Rhys, who has created his own emotional prison, and how Rogers and his show help the man crawl out of his own personal darkness.
With that comes some heavy themes of familial dissonance, depression, death and animosity. The film, however, has a hopeful and empowering message as we traverse this cruel landscape with the main character, played by Rhys.
As we take this journey, you’ll find yourself with a constant lump in your throat and a tear just on the verge of tracking down your cheek. "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" packs an emotional punch and is a tearjerker, but they're tears of joy and tears of wanting to change and becoming a better version of yourself.
Is it worth watching?
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" isn’t the best movie of the year and has moments here and there that drag. Even though it’s "based on actual events," much of the truth has been stretched, but none of that really matters because it’s a wonderful film filled with hope and forgiveness. It's a message we can all use at this time.
Heller has found a way to get these messages across without being preachy or preying on the audience’s guilt. Rather, she takes a page out of Rogers’ own book and helps us deal with our emotions and look them in the eye and say, "It’s OK to feel sad. It’s OK to feel happy. And it’s OK to feel scared."
After watching this movie, it really does feel like a beautiful day in the neighborhood.
"A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood" is rated PG for some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language.