A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood hits theaters on November 22nd.
By Elazar Abrahams
If you’re expecting a standard biopic, think again. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood explores Fred Rogers of the legendary children’s program Mister Roger’s Neighborhood through the eyes of Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a journalist assigned to interview him. Mr. Rogers and Lloyd form a surprising friendship, and Lloyd learns some valuable lessons about forgiveness and parenting along the way.
As I assumed, Tom Hanks did a phenomenal job donning the iconic red cardigan. He doesn’t sound like Fred Rogers, but it doesn’t matter. Hanks really embodies the saint’s movements here. We see him interact with countless children and giving each one his full attention. The script even attempts to go deeper behind the sweater and smile. Unexpectedly, we get to see some of the burden Rogers carries. Constant kindness doesn’t come easy. It takes a lot of work to manage anger and frustration.
The movie takes a lot of big swings that don’t connect. In one memorable scene, Mr. Rogers breaks the fourth wall and stares into the camera, asking the audience to think about their loved ones. Another insane sequence is something out of a mind trip, where Lloyd finds himself shrunken down inside the land of make believe. Even the transition between moments is meta, using sets from the show to depict characters traveling cities or the sun rising. These creative choices feel unnecessary; at one point the film felt like an SNL sketch. Despite all this, I cannot convey what an amazing theater experience this was. Joyful and heartbreaking and kind and hopeful and funny all at once. You will cry! See A Beautiful Day on the big screen.
I give A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood an A-.