A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood * Timely Message About Forgiveness and Redemption

Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor. KIDS FIRST! Film Critic Selene W. comments, “It’s definitely A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when Tom Hanks portrays the iconic Mister Rogers.  The message is timely and needed now more than ever.  This movie is not what I expected. You learn about Mr. Rogers’ through his relationship with a man who didn’t want to be his friend or neighbor.” Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Reviewer adds, “I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He seemed like the nicest man on the planet. Casting the nicest actor on the planet as Fred Rogers was brilliant. Mr. Hanks brings the deliberate-speaking teacher to life in a way I can’t describe.” See their full reviews below.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

By Selene W., KIDS FIRST! Film Critic, age 11 

It’s definitely A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood when Tom Hanks portrays the iconic Mister Rogers.  The message is timely and needed now more than ever.  This movie is not what I expected. You learn about Mr. Rogers’ through his relationship with a man who didn’t want to be his friend or neighbor.  It’s a message that we all need to hear.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on a true life story about the relationship that develops between Fred Rogers and a cynical reporter who is loath to interview him for a piece on American heroes.  In the movie, the reporter is Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) who gives an amazing performance.  Through his interactions with Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), Vogel begins to understand that part of him is broken.  The healing process begins as their friendship develops and you see Fred Rogers teaching him to understand, accept and voice his emotions and feelings.  It is beautiful.  Tom Hanks is masterful in this role at bringing out the transformation of his friend.

In addition to Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys, the cast has other powerful performances, notably Chris Cooper who plays Lloyd’s dad, Jerry Vogel.  Christine Lahti, as Lloyd’s Editor Ellen, pushes him to work on the hero piece and adds a touching element to the movie as well. The film is directed by Marielle Heller and written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster.  Music plays an important role in this movie and is by Nate Heller.  The scenes of Mr. Rogers playing the piano along with the behind-the-scenes of the television show during filming of Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood are particularly moving. 

The message of this film is that anyone can change the world with words.  It’s a powerful message that we often forget.  Listen and think before you speak, as your words impact others.  Fred Rogers finds a positive way to help others express their feelings, which is not an easy thing to do, although he makes it look easy.  Forgiveness and redemption are another theme in this film.

I rate this film 4.5 out of 5 stars and recommend it for ages 4 to 18 and adults will love it as well.  The film opens in theaters November 22, 2019 so don’t miss it this Thanksgiving season!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
By Kimbirly O., KIDS FIRST! Adult Juror

I grew up watching Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. He seemed like the nicest man on the planet. Casting the nicest actor on the planet as Fred Rogers was brilliant. Mr. Hanks brings the deliberate-speaking teacher to life in a way I can’t describe.  I’m betting Tom Hanks will be nominated for many awards for this role. He becomes Fred Rogers in the film.

Kindness is so simple. This film is a beautiful and timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. In the film his character is named Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and he is grumpy and not interested in an assigned puff-piece profile of Fred Rogers. Throughout the film, he works through his skepticism, and learns kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor.

The real lesson is learned by Lloyd as he works through issues of fathers, his own (Chris Cooper) and his new role as a father.  The film is moving and brings forth many emotions – from grief to sadness to joy, and everything in between. Lloyd’s wife, Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) is the bridge between Lloyd’s family pain and his future as a better Dad.

Lloyd spoke to my heart and begs the audience to feel emotions and be kind, clean up family messes and listen to others when help is needed. I believe every person who sees this film will be moved. The depth of Fred Rogers reach is felt on a public subway. I have not been able to forget this scene since I screened the film.

I give this film 4 of 5 stars for its beautiful theme, set design and character development.  At times, it is slow, yet is parallels Mr. Rogers’ pace so I’m not sure if this was intentional or a flaw.  This film will appeal to ages 12 to 18, as well as adults. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens in theaters on November 22, 2019. See it!

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