Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America's most beloved neighbor.
In an interview on CBS This Morning (1992), Tom Hanks described playing Fred Rogers as "terrifying" due to Rogers' immense cultural and social influence. He credited Joanne Rogers, who served as a consultant on the film, with helping him to craft an honest and believable representation of her late husband. Joanne also gave Hanks several of Fred's neckties which Hanks wore in the film. See more »
The credits show a song by Mr. Rogers as "You've Got To Do It". The actual song title was "You Did It". See more »
A Wonderful Story of How Mr. Rogers Made the World a Better Place
The Mr. Rogers movie isn't about Mr. Rogers.
It's a story about a man named Lloyd. It's story of how Lloyd met Mr. Rogers, became his friend, and how Mr. Rogers saved Lloyd's life.
Lloyd's life wasn't in danger in the literal sense. Lloyd didn't have a terminal illness for Mr. Rogers to cure. Lloyd didn't have suicidal thoughts for Mr. Rogers to quell. Lloyd's life was in danger in a different sense. He was in danger of losing himself and the things he cared about most.
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" tells the story of how Mr. Rogers helped Lloyd mend his psychological fractures and face the demons that had haunted him since his childhood. Through their relationship, we get a peek behind the curtain of the impact that Mr. Rogers had on the lives of the people he met on a daily basis. He helped many children, of course, but he also helped adults too.
Some viewers may fret over Mr. Rogers' limited screen time in the film and the focus on Lloyd. I disagree. The time we spend with Mr. Rogers is plenty revealing and impactful. Lloyd is a sensible character on which to build a story, because he has glaring flaws and a development arc. The great legacy of Mr. Rogers is all the lives he touched and the good he gave the world. Lloyd's story provides a wonderful example.
Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers is every bit as perfect as anyone would have guessed. He doesn't try to overplay it by doing an impression, mocking Rogers' body language and the like. What he does is find a way to capture the essence of Mr. Rogers, the beacon of positivity he became. The teacher. The friend. The nicest man in the world.
That doesn't mean Mr. Rogers is perfect. He's not an angel born to be kind. He works on being kind every day. Only through consistent effort and intentionality of goodness does Mr. Rogers achieve his rightfully earned reputation. He serves as an example to all of us that we too can be kind, and we too can live the lives we want to live.
It's perhaps the most inspirational and most important message we'll see at the movies all year.
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