*Another true story here
Lloyd Vogel is an investigative journalist who receives an assignment to profile Fred Rogers, aka Mr. Rogers. Fred’s empathy, kindness and decency soon chips away at Vogel’s jaded outlook on life, forcing him to reconcile with his painful past.
Genuine kindness is something that is very hard to come by in today’s society. We are all so focused on what is next that sometimes we forget to enjoy the people that are in our lives. Mr. Rogers was someone who preached kindness every day on his show and in his personal life. There are countless stories about him enriching everyones lives around him and going above and beyond to perform good deeds.
Marielle Heller’s (Can You Ever Forgive Me) new movie based on the Mr. Rogers famous song, is adapted from a feature in Esquire Magazine written by Tom Junod. I will say up front that this is not a Mr. Rogers Biopic, this story is more about Matthew Rhys’ Lloyd Vogel (they changed Junod’s name) and his relationship with his family. Vogel has had numerous issues with his father over the years but things start to change after he gets assigned by his editor to cover Mr. Rogers. During their sessions Lloyd starts to see new perspectives on life, and what kindness can do for everyone around you.
This is a feel good movie for the holidays, and what is interesting is that they structure this like an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood. Tom Hanks opens the movie with the famous song, and closes the movie by ending the episode. This structure is original and keeps the story in a tight format. The biggest problems for me is one, I did not grow up with Mr. Rogers, and two my relationship with my Dad is really good so I really had a hard time connecting with the bitter Lloyd. Other than that, this is an extremely well acted and heartwarming movie.
Stock Neutral – Tom Hanks
He is a Hall of Famer at this point and nothing he can do is going to change that. He has made it a point in recent years to play a ton of real people and he does another great job here. He really nails the cadence of Mr. Rogers and his overall warmth as a human. The scene that truly blew me away was him singing with Daniel Tiger, it was mindblowing to watch. He is Tom Hanks what else can you say!
Stock Neutral – Matthew Rhys
This one hurts because I am huge fan of his from The Americans. Unfortunately I just did not think this performance pushed him over the edge. He was really good, nothing really blew me away though and made me think he was a full on movie star.
Stock Up – Marielle Heller
Her Stock continues to rise after last years great debut with Can You Ever Forgive Me. She clearly is going to be a prestige director moving forward and I will be in line to see all of her movies going forward.
*A couple other tidbits
- The singing on the train scene was extremely corny but somehow still worked on me.
- The Arsenio Hall and Oprah scenes were homages to Forrest Gump.
- There was a dream sequence that took me out of the movie a bit.
Mr. Rogers says “No Normal Life is free without pain” and Lloyd has to go through pain to understand what truly is important to him in life. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a very corny but touching movie, even if I did not totally connect with the characters.
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