TriStar’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is Truly Something Beautiful

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Mr. Rogers is one of America’s often unrecognized heroes. Despite this, very few of us high schoolers know or remember Mr. Rogers. I have the faintest memories of seeing his show in early childhood, but I can’t say with confidence that he left a significant impact on me and on our society.

Mr. Rogers Neighborhood was a children’s television program made in the 1970s that featured host Fred Rogers teaching children how to deal with their emotions in a positive way as well as guiding them through difficult to grasp issues like divorce and mental illness.

Naturally, when I heard about this movie, with Tom Hanks as Rogers, I knew it was going to be good. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood both proved me right and exceeded my expectations.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood decided to take an interesting route when telling a story about Mr. Rogers in that, it wasn’t even about Mr. Rogers at all.

The film actually tells the story of Lloyd Vogul: an investigative journalist for Esquire magazine, a new father, and a man with a strained relationship with his father. A fight breaks between the two when his father reappears to attempt to mend fences with his son.

It’s when Lloyd is assigned to interview Mr. Rogers himself that things turn around for him. Mr. Rogers teaches Lloyd how to go about handling his relationship with his father. The film’s story is well thought out, giving us an excellent balance between Lloyd’s story and his relationship with Mr. Rogers. There were several moments that had me crying!

Stylistically, the film did an excellent job replicating the style of Mr. Rogers’ show, often using model cities and cars for transitions in a similar light to the 70s show. Some of the movie is filmed in a way that is reminiscent of 70s camerawork, and much of the film’s soundtrack is done in the style of the classic television show (with heavy use of xylophones and delightful melodies throughout). Tom Hanks definitely did his homework, as his performance as Mr. Rogers was spot on. Hanks captured Rogers’ kindness and sincerity, while also displaying the complexity behind the amiable television host. At several points Mr. Rogers is shown talking to the audience as if he were filming an episode of his show, and he even interacts with the audience outside of these moments as well, making for some touching moments.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood left me thoughtfully contemplating my own life and emotions. This film’s Mr. Rogers not only helped the characters within the film with their lives, but it moved the audience as well. The aspect of the film that I most admired was displaying the humanity of Mr. Rogers. He’s not just a kind soul all around, he has a temper, but he has ways of dealing with it. It would have been very easy for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood to simply pander to the heroic nature of Mr. Rogers, but the film decided to look at him as a person rather than as just some “God amongst men.” Emotionally moving, this film is very much akin to a work of art.

Overall, I cannot recommend this film enough. It’s one of the best films of the decade. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is complex, well-crafted, and most of all (true to its name), beautiful.