A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Tom Hanks is perfectly cast as America's beloved children's TV host Fred Rogers alongside Matthew Rhys as troubled journalist Lloyd Vogel.
Tom Hanks is considered one of the nicest people in Hollywood, so it makes perfect sense for him to play saintly children's entertainer Mr. Rogers in Marielle Heller's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.
The film, based on the 1998 Esquire article by Tom Junod, focuses on the friendship that develops between journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and Fred Rogers (Hanks) when he is assigned to profile him for the magazine.
Vogel is an investigative reporter who has no interest in writing a "puff piece" about Rogers, so he sets out to dig up the dirt on the TV host, determined to prove he isn't the saint everyone believes he is.
However, the experience has a bigger impact on him than he expected, as Rogers helps Vogel learn some big life lessons about grief, anger, and expressing your emotions, as well as get a handle on the deep resentments he has toward his father Jerry (Chris Cooper).
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood may seem like a biopic of Rogers, but it's not. You certainly gain some insight into his life but he is only a supporting character in Vogel's story.
This film is about toxic masculinity and how failing to express your emotions can manifest itself in the ugliest of ways and make a person become cold and bitter.
Rogers helps Vogel see that holding a grudge against Jerry isn't helping and he needs to let it go to have a happy, peaceful life. For this reason, this feature could not feel more relevant.
The movie is a bit jarring at first and it takes a while to find its footing. It opens with Hanks presenting an episode of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood - a children's TV show which ran in the U.S. from 1968 to 2001 - and this lasts a while.
However, after the camera pans over a town made out of toys, we enter the real world and meet Vogel and his wife Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson).
Yet, Heller does include a few other weird, experimental moments throughout.
Hanks has never been so perfectly cast in a role. You can't imagine anyone else as this character. He is so warm, charming and welcoming, and also talks very slowly and softly.
Rhys is the opposite - he plays an angry, cynical character harbouring a lot of angst for the majority of the movie but his performance evolves later on and becomes rather moving.
You don't need to know anything about Rogers to enjoy this flick because the story isn't really about him.
It can be a bit too sentimental and preachy at times, but overall, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a lovely, life-affirming, and uplifting two hours.
© Cover Media