A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day

By Joanna Langfield

The casting of Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers might make one assume we’re in for a gentle feel good movie. Thankfully, the end results are savvier and more interesting than that.

Based on the making of journalist Tom Junod’s (a top notch Matthew Rhys) Esquire profile of the legendary children’s television performer, it takes us a while in the film to get to the feel good part of this unlikely friendship. Junod’s rough around the edges, a husband and new father with anger issues. Assigned to a short profile of Mr. Rogers, of all people, Tom grumbles as he jets off to Pittsburgh. Much of the movie takes us backstage in the public TV studios, we meet the all-business characters who keep Fred Rogers, (Hanks, lovely), sort of on schedule and discover the genuineness of the man Junod wasn’t expecting. Of course, Junod wasn’t expecting Fred to ferret out the difficult relationship between the journalist and his own father, either. Neither was he expecting to find a friend to help him heal old wounds and come to terms with his dying dad.

There’s a lot to cry about here, if you allow that to happen. Mr. Rogers probably would have wanted you to. You can cry about the definitions of masculinity, the emotional benefits of true relationships, the possibilities of kindness. Remember kindness? But director Marielle Heller wisely insists on coloring this adult story with more complex shades than that. I’m still not sure why we get to see mock ups of downtown NYC, Twin Towers standing tall, not once but twice, but I did find Fred Rogers’ solution for expelling anger revealing. Maybe we should all pound on a piano once in a while. And try a little kindness whenever we can.

 

One Response to “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

  1. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood | The Movie Minute Says:

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