A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Though incredibly different from what I anticipated, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is highly original and well worth the watch.
Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a journalist for a magazine that's doing an issue on American heroes, and Lloyd has been asked to interview the one and only Mr. Rogers (Tom Hanks). Being a very cynical reporter by trade, Vogel doesn't feel he is the right man for the job, and Mr. Rogers' staff even advise him against going through with the interview, but Vogel is forced to pursue the job and Rogers ignores the warnings and agrees to do it.
When Vogel arrives on the set of Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood, he is very skeptical or Rogers, questioning whether he is as genuinely gracious and gentle as his show portrays, but it is not long before he discovers that Rogers is exactly what he appears, both on screen and off. Being that they have vastly differing personalities, Vogel struggles to find the right angle for his article, but soon learns he must trust in the instincts of Mr. Rogers, and allow himself to begin a quest for discovery, forgiveness, and kindness.
When I sat down in the theater to watch A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, I didn't know much about the movie other than what I had seen in the trailers, so I was very surprised when the film unfolded in the way that it did. I had gone in with the idea that it was going to be another run of the mill biopic about a cherished historical figure, but was instead, met with a highly creative and ingenious story, not about Mr.Rogers and his life, but about the impact he made to every person who either met him in person or watched him on TV. Mr.Rogers himself may not have been in the bulk of the film, but his essence was. This movie was practically a love letter to the memory of Mr. Rogers and the lasting impression he made on children as they grew. It also shows that the messages he told through his show were not only meant for young viewers, and could have an equally powerful effect on adults, especially ones in need of a little compassion and guidance in their lives.
When it comes to movies based on real events, I understand that unless it is a documentary, a film can't be 100% accurate, but I am a bit of a stickler when it comes to a movie at least attempting to stay true to the facts and portrayals. It can go without saying that Tom Hanks is a brilliant actor, and one who long ago cemented his legacy as an American treasure. Though he was obviously not able to change the pitch of his iconic voice, he was able to match the patterns and pace of Mr.Rogers' famously slow way of talking. Hanks is someone who is likely one of the most recognizable actors in the nation, but he does a fantastic job at transforming into the beloved TV legend. That being said, I was a little irritated to discover there were parts of the story that were quite fabricated, mainly a lot of the drama involved with Vogel's story. For me, if changing the facts of history in a film majorly impacts the narrative, it makes me have a harder time loving the movie in its entirety. Now, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was so cleverly and impeccably made, that it could almost allow me to look passed the inaccuracies of the information presented in the movie, just not entirely.
The character of Lloyd Vogel was based on real life journalist, Tom Junod, who did write the article that Vogel is seen working on in the film. Even though Vogel's character did not technically exist, he does represent the anger and frustration that so many people experience in their adult lives. His character's general level of pessimism is faced with a hefty challenge when tasked with having to endure Mr.Rogers and his almost overbearing optimism. At first, the film almost portrays Rogers' heightened level positivity as more of an annoyance rather than a gift, but it is because this film is told through the eyes of someone who is lacking the love and acceptance in his life that Rogers exudes. It is about Vogel's journey and how Mr.Rogers helped change his life for the better. It is because of this, that A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood may be able to speak to so many adult viewers who take the time to watch it.
Though fact and fiction were overlapped and blended in this movie, what cannot be denied is the stellar portrayal of the type of person Mr. Rogers was. There's so much love that surrounds Rogers and the legacy he left behind, that you'd think we wouldn't need for it to be recalled over time, but it never hurts to be shown again and again how far a little kindness, patience, and humanity can go. This is something Mr.Rogers knew for sure and taught children about for decades, but when we get movies like this one, it's nice to once again get that reminder and hope that it can help guide people onto a better path, one that is influenced by everything Mr.Rogers stood for.