“It’s funny, sometimes it’s hardest to forgive the ones we love,” Fred Rogers said.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a film about the unexpected friendship of beloved children’s TV host Fred Rogers, and a hardened journalist, hits viewers hard with a simple yet emotional opening scene about forgiveness. Just seconds into the movie, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” song plays, it was hard not to feel the nostalgia that went along with it.
I was caught off guard at first by how the film focused more on journalist Lloyd Vogel than Rogers, but I soon understood why since Rogers’s impact and his interactions shine through Vogel and is overall the theme of the movie: how there’s always room to grow and process, which Mr. Rogers helps Vogel do.
The film did an excellent job of humanizing Rogers and helping him appear as a real person who had his faults and experienced anger like everyone else. Reading scripture, swimming daily, and slamming piano keys were all ways Rogers released the everyday emotions that met him. Vogel’s conversation with Rogers’s wife Joanne, enforced the message of the movie.
“If you paint him [Fred Rogers] as a saint, […] then somehow his way of life and the work that he does is unattainable. He worked very hard at it. It was a practice for him,” Joanne Rogers said.
In a movie that focuses on Rogers and his impact, there is a puzzling lack of scenes with Mr. Rogers. Despite his absence, almost every time he was on screen I remained teary-eyed, whether it be a heartfelt occasion on the subway or a dejected yet unavoidable moment.
Portraying the admired Fred Rogers is no easy task, but Academy award-winning Tom Hanks proves once again just why he won two Oscars; his talent is evident in the tricky role. Hanks captures Rogers’s gentle and caring nature to a T with his tone and movements. Hanks as Rogers also brings along a sense of familiarity that only a household name like Hanks could do.
A particular scene that really stuck with me was when Hanks as Rogers asks Vogel to take a minute and think of those who love him. An actual minute of silence passed in the movie and in the theater, all of us reflecting alongside Rogers and Vogel.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood felt like an extended and more mature episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The film was a needed reminder to everyone to be a little more compassionate; Rodgers’ straight-forward yet honest words struck a chord with many.