I will admit, I was skeptical about whether Hanks could embody Rogers well or if he would put on an uninspired impersonation. All this is a shame. Vogel gets to witness what generations of children never did, the reality behind the make-believe.
a beautiful day in the neighborhood trailer – Metropolitan Theatres
An award-winning cynical journalist, Lloyd Vogel, begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write an Esquire profile piece on the beloved television icon Fred Rogers. As his relationship with his subject deepens, Lloyd is disarmed enough to come to terms with his own fears as a new parent, as well as with his own estranged father, played by Chris Cooper (the plot line involving Cooper’s character will culminate in a scene that is perfectly orchestrated for both laughs and a few tears). Balancing pathos, humor and Rogers’s practice of radical Christian love and acceptance, Heller lends A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” a light touch and depth of feeling that play off each other in near-perfect balance.
But Roger’s empathy, kindness and decency soon chips away at Vogel’s jaded outlook on life, forcing the reporter to reconcile with his own painful past. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is rated PG and is 109 minutes long.
Lloyd doesn’t do beautiful anymore. Not for a long time, Maybe not since his father ran out on him. He doesn’t write about the true or the noble or the right or the pure, because in his experience there’s always something worse underneath. The real world doesn’t do noble, and nothing is pure for long. Such things belong in make-believe realms filled with cardboard castles and talking tigers.
Beautiful Day is a lot like Nora Ephron’s 2009 film Julie & Julia, another hagiography of an adored PBS star, Julia Child. In both, an unpleasant person is writing about a universally adored person, and that work changes them. But in Ephron’s film, Julia, a historical figure, remains simply a blogger’s subject; Heller’s casts Rogers as therapist to the broken Vogel, intervening in his life, urging him to be a better man. It’s not that hard to believe that a guy like Fred Rogers would take a deep interest in every person he happened to meet. What is hard to believe is that anyone watching will care about some guy who writes for magazines and doesn’t like his dad.
Lloyd’s relationship with Jerry is perhaps the movie’s central point of tension. We see and feel the bad blood between the father and son—blood so bad that Lloyd can barely stomach talking with the guy for much of the movie. Spoiler Warning Eventually, we learn the primary reason for the father-son split: Jerry ran out on his wife when she got sick, forcing Lloyd and his sister to care for her all by themselves.
Director Marielle Heller (“Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) started with a friendly face, convincing Tom Hanks to bring Fred Rogers’ red cardigan-clad persona to life in the new film (in theaters Friday), which was shot in the TV star’s hometown of Pittsburgh (and even re-creates the original show’s miniature neighborhoods as a way to pivot between scenes).
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.
There are, however, a few things about the film I didn’t love. If you hadn’t told me that the director was a woman—Marielle Heller, responsible for the great The Diary of a Teenage Girl and one of my favorite films of last year, Can You Ever Forgive Me?—I would’ve assumed it was a guy. Because you see, Vogel is kind of a jerk. That’s fine, jerks are interesting subject matter. But everyone in the film is always propping him up, supporting him, loving him—including several women—when what he really needs is a swift kick in the ass. In that sense, the film comes dangerously close to the great man” theory of bad behavior. Vogel is a brilliant writer, therefore, we are to put up with his pugilistic tendencies, his neglect of his wife and infant son, his all-consuming selfishness. Everyone, even Mr. Rogers (especially Mr. Rogers) works very hard to heal him.
In A Beautiful Day, when Lloyd finds himself out of control, beholden to his fear and sadness, he flees to go to work. You can tell it’s a strategy that’s worked for him for years. But this time, his work means talking to Mister Rogers.
It’s not a film without fault, with one over-egged dream sequence falling flat and some last-act emotion not hitting quite as hard as it should, but its warmth radiates throughout. Many people will surely herald this as the film we need” right now but that’s a meaningless statement and what’s important about the lessons of acceptance and forgiveness that Rogers preaches is that they’re lessons we need at any time and likely always will.
As Lloyd does in the movie, Junod became close with Rogers after the children’s TV host saw something special in him. The movie, in theaters nationwide on Friday, is not a play-by-play of either man’s life—for one thing, Junod never got into a fight with his father at his sister’s wedding, as Lloyd does—but Junod says that while Lloyd’s on-screen circumstances are fictionalized, the depiction of their friendship is as close to reality as he could have hoped.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood invites the audience to suspend even well-earned skepticism and face the feelings we keep locked inside about painful or unresolved childhood experiences. Indeed this is one of the flick’s main strengths: a character like Lloyd is easily recognizable in the real-world. This makes it hard to dismiss the themes of the film — kindness, optimism, respecting your neighbors — as mere “kids stuff” while also allowing the film to unabashedly celebrate Mr. Rogers.
Which is not an easy role for an actor to play. Without descending to overt mimicry, Hanks captures Rogers’s body language and vocal intonations, and his own firmly established reputation for niceness adds an important element of credibility. But while it’s hard to imagine any other American actor playing Mr. Rogers, I can’t help but think that Hanks is miscast.
In “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” Matthew Rhys plays Lloyd Vogel, a journalist who recently had a child with his wife (Susan Kelechi Watson). In reality, Junod and his wife were struggling with infertility when he interviewed Rogers in 1998.
Matthew Rhys from the TV series ‘The Americans’ is authentic as Lloyd Vogel, a cynical journalist carrying a ton of emotional baggage to his interview with Mr. Rogers. Susan Kelechi Watson, Beth Pearson on TV’s ‘This is Us’, is wife Andrea and Chris Cooper, Academy Award-winner for his role in ‘Adaptation’, is Lloyd’s father….responsible for loading up all that emotional baggage.
Vicariously through Lloyd Vogel, I let go of my cynicism on how corny Mr. Rogers can be in his role as a children’s television celebrity. This movie came at a perfect time and emphasizes self-reflection and growth in the perfect way: through the voice of the hero” Mr. Rogers.
Academy Award Best Actress nominee Cynthia Erivo (Widow, Bad Times at the El Royale) stars as the title character in Harriet. From her escape from slavery through the dangerous missions she led to liberate hundreds of slaves through the Underground Railroad, the story of heroic abolitionist Harriet Tubman is told. The film is also nominated for the Stand Up in the Best Original Song category. Harriet is rated PG-13 and is 125 minutes long.
Of course, Lloyd is the proxy for the audience in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” which happily accepts the odd eye roll, even as it leans in to Rogers’s own sincerity and moral clarity. Artfully dodging over-sweetness and sanctimony, screenwriters Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster frequently give us permission to laugh, usually in the form of Lloyd’s dumbstruck disbelief at Rogers’ most saintly qualities. Brilliantly directed by Marielle Heller, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is enlivened by a witty and clever production design that uses the TV show’s toy-box aesthetic as a transition device and within the narrative itself, allowing viewers to enter Rogers’s world and, sometimes, to gently parody the hokiest aspects of the show.
Notable cameos in the film include Rogers’ wife Joanne, Mr. McFeely actor David Newell , Family Communications head Bill Isler, and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood producer Margy Whitmer 15 who appear as customers in a restaurant that Rogers and Lloyd meet in. Fred Rogers makes an uncredited appearance in archive footage of his show during the ending credits, singing the song “You’ve Got to Do It”.
But the core of his surprising friendship with Rogers is depicted accurately, says the writer, who traded phone calls and 70 emails with Rogers before the star died of stomach cancer in 2003. Junod was brought to tears by “A Beautiful Day”: From the moment Tom begins talking to you in the audience, I just bought in,” he says.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” celebrates the virtues of patient listening, gentleness and the honest expression of feelings. It’s about how a man who has devoted his life to being kind helps a man with a professional investment in skepticism to become a little nicer. The appeal of such a movie at the present moment is obvious enough, and so perhaps are the risks. This modest, quiet story — based on a magazine article published more than 20 years ago — could easily have turned into something preachy, sentimental and overstated.
A film about friendship and forgiveness more than a film about Mr. Rogers, it’s told through the lens of a friendship with Mr. Rogers. That’s really the best way you could do this type of story though I think. Tom Hanks is such a powerhouse icon himself it might be hard to see Rogers through him, but he’s so damn good that pretty quickly you just fall into it. The growing friendship is genuine and intriguing as hell. Honestly the best part of the movie is scenes of these two clashing personalities just talking to each other. It’s so simple, just a room and two opposing types chatting, and it’s riveting as all hell. Seeing Rogers break down his barriers to the human inside is heartwarming and real. It’s just a sweet movie, and a fascinating look at what this legend would have been like when the cameras weren’t rolling. The answer, it turns out, is not all that different.
The movie is at its best when the mesmerizing Hanks is on screen. But the treatment of topics like forgiveness, the need to prioritize family life over professional advancement and the power of prayer (Rogers was a Presbyterian minister) are consistently handled with skill.
First, it’s Fred on the phone: Not his assistant, not his handler, not his lawyer. Mister Rogers himself. And when Lloyd suggests they set another time to talk because he knows (he says) that Fred has more important things to do right then, Fred disagrees: He’s on the phone with Lloyd right now. And that makes Lloyd, in that moment, the most important thing in Fred’s life.
The movie is told through Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), loosely based on Esquire journalist Tom Junod, whose profile on Mr Rogers is the foundation of the film. But A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood takes some surrealist left turns, and by design.
They’ve all come up short, as Taffy Brodesser-Akner discovers in her recent New York Times magazine profile of Hanks , which cannily checks the same boxes Junod’s profile of Rogers did. He really is that friendly, civil, generous, and kind. In fact, a publicist at one point even relays concern that yet another story about how nice Tom Hanks is could be bad press, that something so boring and expected would hurt the film, or diminish the accomplishment of the excellent acting and transformation he pulls off.
While he still doesn’t know whether Rogers had read the Spacey article, Junod believes Rogers recognized that he was going through a moment of transformation after losing trust” in himself. That’s what Fred, I believe, saw, and sort of decided to work on in his own inimitable way,” he says.
The ensuing interview turns into something more: an enduring friendship and spiritual awakening that ambushes Lloyd and continually subverts his most cynical efforts to dismiss it. Faced with Rogers’s directness and honesty — too often confused with naivete — Lloyd puts up a flummoxed, fruitless fight. Each time they encounter each other he turns into the angry, rejected child that crouches inside him, and walks away confounded, skeptical and a little bit changed.
As a journalist for Esquire magazine, Lloyd has seen his share of ugly days in ugly neighborhoods. He’s been through third-world shantytowns and blighted apartments. But some of the ugliest neighborhoods masquerade as the prettiest. Manicured suburbs hide dark secrets. Gated communities lock monsters inside. Beautiful? That’s a laugh.
It’s appropriate that A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, while ostensibly about the late children’s TV host Fred Rogers, is in fact not entirely, or even mostly, about him. The real protagonist of the film is Lloyd Vogel, a sour, stubbly New York writer who’s been assigned by Esquire magazine to write a profile of Rogers—Mister Rogers, as he’s known to a legion of American preschool kids and the adults who learned to love him as the kids they once were.
Yeah the thing that I relate to in the movie is the similarities. The differences melt away, the similarities to my own story stay. I mean, I’ve seen the movie a number of times now and every time it grabs me. Because, you know the mood is wonderful. It makes you not just see Mr. Rogers, not just learn about Mr. Rogers, but when you watch the movie you experience Mr. Rogers. His friendship is extended to you in the audience. So I feel like he’s reaching out to me when I watch the movie.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is now playing in theaters nationwide. Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Marielle Heller’s film fails to understand its subject—the venerable Mister Rogers—but it still might make you cry.
When Lloyd tells his wife about his newest assignment, she’s happy for him. Andrea remembers watching Mister Rogers as a kid. He was so kind, so gentle. He made her feel safe. Loved. The touching movie takes on the ideals espoused by Fred Rogers, the beloved children’s television host from Mister Rogers Neighborhood, and feels like an intense group therapy session.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is not a Mister Rogers biopic. It’s weirder, and better. A character punches his (drunk) dad, gets punched by someone else at a wedding reception. Lloyd collapses; Jerry passes out. References to a father’s negligence and emotional abuse.
A photo of journalist Tom Junod and Fred Rogers around 1999. Dir: Marielle Heller. Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, and Chris Cooper. PG cert, 108 mins. The new film about the man behind “Mister Rogers Neighborhood” is a pure, humanist kind of storytelling that invites introspection into one’s inner life.
Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers – I guess he would seem a natural for the role, being a pleasant, endearing guy with a positive approach to life. But in this role, he seemed a little out of his realm, curiously enough. He seemed slightly awkward in the first half hour of the movie. But then, he seemed to absorb the role and make it his own in the second half. That made the movie easy to sink into.
At the end of Won’t You Be My Neighbor, the audience is explicitly asked to try this exercise. At that point in the documentary I had already been crying for a solid half hour, so it just made me cry harder. This time, watching A Beautiful Day, I had somehow steeled myself ‘” maybe because I was sitting in the theater with a notebook on my lap, studiously taking notes. Working, yet again, instead of feeling.
The film’s title suggests kinship; the lessons Rogers imparts to Vogel suggest forgiveness and spiritual belief. But it is all background to the story of a gloomy Esquire magazine writer who is meant to be the audience’s surrogate: Vogel is a white liberal whose good intentions are signified by his having a black wife and a biracial infant.