A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood and all the images you see in this review are owned by Sony Pictures Releasing
Directed by Marielle Heller
I’m trying to recall if I’ve ever actually sat through an entire episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood and if I had it was WAY too long ago for me to remember, so while the guy has always been a presence in my life simply by way of cultural osmosis, I never really got to experience him the way that many other people did. The impact was always felt, especially when PBS and public television were still things before the rise of YouTube and streaming services, but what made the show work so well and what made Mr. Rogers such an enigmatic figure for many generations? Well I guess if I wanted to know the answer to those questions then there wouldn’t be a better time to do it then this brand new biopic, right? Well actually the documentary from last year would probably be the best bet which I still need to see at some point, but this movie is a decent runner up! Does it
You’ll be forgiven for thinking that this movie is mostly about Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), but ACTUALLY the movie is primarily focused with Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys); a writer for Esquire Magazine who’s been assigned to cover Mr. Rogers for a piece about heroes right at the time he’s dealing with some serious issues in his personal life. You see, Lloyd has spent the better part of his life avoiding his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) who did some really awful stuff in the past that Lloyd has had no reason to forgive, and yet his sister (Tammy Blanchard) gives him an opening back into their lives at her wedding which eventually leads to Lloyd’s wife Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) wanting to make inroads with his as well; a movie that utterly baffles Lloyd and puts a serious strain on their relationship which was already under a great deal of stress as they just had a baby. All this is swirling around in his head which isn’t helping his lack of enthusiasm for writing a puff piece about a children’s entertainer, and yet something about Fred Rogers intrigues Lloyd; particularly the utter sincerity with which he approaches everything and everyone around him which is either a genuine extension of himself or possibly a mask for something much darker than anyone would have assumed from such a sweet man they see on television. Is there truly something there for Lloyd to uncover behind the kind face and the red sweaters? Will these interviews with such a noble seeming man perhaps give him some perspective on his own issues and how he’s been handling them up to this point? Most importantly of all, do we get any juicy behind the scene details on the set of the show!? Probably not, but we can always dream, right?