Everyone has grown up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood and I myself am not ashamed to admit it. When this film was first announced, I was excited and also curious to see how Tom Hanks will play as Mr. Rogers and he blew my expectations and made me believe that he was him throuought the film. I will explain more right now on my review of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
This film is based on the 1998 article “Can You Say….Hero?” that was published by Esquire. We get to see the background of everything that was going on before the article was published and it started with the National Magazine Awards ceremony as Lloyd Vogel (Based on Tom Junod, played by Matthew Rhys) gave an acceptance speech after receiving his award. After this, him and Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) attend his father’s wedding (Chris Cooper). Jerry and Lloyd also had a fight during the reception which left him bruises on his face. Side note, Mr. Rogers did the introduction of this scene by having a five-door panel with pictures behind the doors and one of them is Lloyd. We will get back to this at the end of the film. At Esquire, Ellen (Christine Lathi) gives Lloyd an assignment to interview Mr. Rogers as a profile spotlight. Lloyd was not used to doing that kind of interview, but he took up on the assignment.
When he got home to tell Andrea, they talk about it and she even says a funny line telling him to not ruin her childhood. He then gets a call from Fred Rogers himself before he goes to Pittsburg to meet him the next day. On the set, Lloyd watches Fred talk to a child who has breathing problems. Fred not only makes him happy, but he also gives him hope and even takes a picture of him with his family. The child was also from the Make-A-Wish foundation and the producer told Lloyd that he does this every single day. There was also a segment filmed where he had trouble setting up a tent as well and after that, the interview takes place and Fred was asked if he think he was an hero but he does not believe that he is regardless of his public image. Fred then turned the questions towards Lloyd as he asks him about the bruise on his face and his dad. That part of the interview ends right there, but he has to go back to interview again and it happens a few more times during the film.
At this point, this is where Lloyd understands that there is more to Fred Rogers than just the Mr. Rogers character and he sees this on separate interviews and appearances he has seen him on such as The Arsenio Hall Show, Oprah, etc. He realized himself that he has inspired many people of all ages and has taken on heavy topics that were on episodes of his show with examples like war, divorce, and sickness. There was also a funny scene when Rogers called Lloyd’s phone and Andrea answered it and talked to him. Lloyd also meet his wife Lorraine (Tammy Blanchard) while Fred was meeting fans. Lorraine tells Lloyd a few stories of what he is like when the cameras are off and how much of a normal person he is. Another great scene I love which is also my favorite scene of the entire movie is when Lloyd and Fred are on the subway and there are children that noticed him. They then begin singing his song and next thing you know, everyone else sings along. That scene right there shows the viewer how much Mr. Rogers affected everyone’s lives when they watched him.
Lloyd has an argument with his dad about how he left him and his mom when she was sick. His dad then gets a heart attack and while they are at the hospital, Lloyd decides to go see Fred to finish the interview and Andrea was against this, but she stayed with his family. Lloyd did apologize about this when they talked about it at the park. When Lloyd enters the studio, he is in the episode and moments later, he passes out and a dream sequence happens. I won’t detail what it is, but think of it as one of those Fire Fly Funhouse skits on WWE television. Lloyd decides to see his father and Andrea does too and they talk about the good times and the good memories along with the recently married couple as well. Fred also shows up too to talk to everyone and his dad and they were all star struck at the moment when he arrived. His father passes away and the interview gets published and everyone loves it. The film ends as Rogers opens the door to that five-door board to show us a Christmas photo of the family. After they filmed the segment, he plays the piano as everyone left the set.
This film is awesome and with the strong cast, it is one of the most emotional movies of the year. I give high praise to Tom Hanks as the entire movie went on, I was convinced that I was looking at Mr. Rogers himself. He got the role as accurate as the man himself from the movements, to playing with the puppets, the voice, and even his tone. I had to go back and watch many Mr. Rogers skits and I realized that they both sound exactly the same. I also have to give a high praise to Matthew as I can relate to the many issues Lloyd went through in this film as a writer, and as a person.
The production of the film is really great too. All of Rogers scenes that were in the studio and even some that were not at the studio was shot on a standard definition camera. The transition scenes when the traveling happens is shown like the set of the show with the toy cars and airplanes and the houses and buildings. They went out of their way to bring back the nostalgia of the show while also keeping the focus on what the setting is outside of the show. The younger me came out during these scenes so I am sure that you will enjoy them too!
I fully recommend for you to watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and the Thanksgiving season is a perfect time for it because Mr. Rogers is family to many people and Thanksgiving is mostly about family. Be sure to check the film out!