So, here’s my problem with A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. The film portrays Fred Rogers as something of a wizard or “superhero”—which to me, in my humble opinion, was precisely what Mr. Rogers wasn’t. In the opening scene of the television show, Mr. Rogers has a board with pictures of people who are having “problems.” Magically, the last picture is of the reporter. This immediately pulled me out of the film—from the real world of Mr. Rogers into the magical world of Mr. Rogers. To continue the madness, of all the reporters that could interview Mr. Rogers, Fred specifically chose Lloyd because he magically knew he needed some Mr. Roger’s magic. I could go on about the dream sequence which absolutely killed the movie for me.
So why does this bother me so much? Mr. Rogers was not a magic man. Quite the opposite, he was a normal man who chose to live a life based on kindness, love, and empathy. Hammering the point, even more, Mr. Rogers was just a normal human being who made the right choices in his life and put others above himself. He showed us that we can live our lives just like him and if we did that, the world would be a better place. All without the use of magic. It’s really not that hard to be nice to others and listen. We can be Mr. Rogers, if only we chose to do so.
“The movie from start to finish feels like an actual Mr. Rogers episode…”
There are some pretty cool elements in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Aside from Hank’s brilliant performance as Fred Rogers, I also liked the style of storytelling. The movie from start to finish feels like an actual Mr. Rogers episode with its simple three-man jazz piano score and its slow, deliberate pace. The overall story is good, sweet, but predictable. I always love seeing Chris Cooper in films, and Matthew Rhys and Susan Kelechi Watson as Andrea Vogel played out some good family discord.
In the end, the Mr. Rogers of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is not the Mr. Rogers I remember as a child. Should I mention that I met Mr. Rogers as part of a PBS pledge drive reward? (Oops, I just dropped something) While I appreciate what Marielle Heller brought to the story and the storytelling risk she took, but for me, it just didn’t work and became a distraction throughout the film.
"…he magically knew he needed some Mr. Roger’s magic."