Fred Rogers was a remarkable man; a man that placed the feelings of others before his own and found the good in humanity. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood represents not only the remarkable Mister Rogers as a person but relays the in depth impact he had on others. Adults that grew up with Mister Rogers will be in for a pleasant surprise as we are given the opportunity to see Fred Rogers give us one more show, and to tell us a tale that we should take in with all our heart and never let go.
Marielle Heller’s direction is near flawless. With stunning use of Mister Rogers’ model neighborhood to an expansive usage of similar models to replicate New York City that functions as a unique and clever transition for a majority of scenes. There's a tense nature to her direction when she focuses the camera on Lloyd, almost as though we can feel his fear of releasing his emotions to Fred. On the opposite side there's a sense of acceptance as well as reluctance to reveal himself when the film focuses on Rogers. It's a beautiful combination of different personality types coming together to ultimately come to a conclusion that there is hope in all humanity if you look for it. Heller wonderfully directs these tense and thoughtful dialogues between Rogers and Lloyd Vogel, and even later in the film when Lloyd is having a serious emotional talk with his father, you can tell that Fred's openness to everyone has somewhat transferred to Lloyd. A remarkable tale and one that everyone should relive in order to have the impact of Fred Rogers be remembered by the world.
The story follows Lloyd Vogel as he is sent out to do a quick exposé on the children’s show host Mister Rogers. At first negative about just how nice the man truly could be, over the course of several meetings and a devastating realization of the health of a disconnected family member, his journey to find the good in humanity dives deeper than the article he is writing and instead in himself, as well as his time with the late Mister Rogers. Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster’s story has Fred Rogers open the film, however A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood isn’t solely about him, and in fact he isn’t the main focus on the feature and instead it’s our journalist character, Lloyd. At first the film focuses on the reluctance of Lloyd believing a man like Fred Rogers exists and originally I was wary of whether or not the combination of these two personalities and stories would flow. To my surprise they work beautifully, and as the film goes on we see a transformation of both their personalities slightly to make them ultimately better human beings. It's a story that makes you relive your childhood (if you were a fan of Mister Rogers) and grow to appreciate the nature of the man even more. It's an emotional ride for sure but one I'm glad I went on.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Tom Hanks is absolutely mesmerizing in his portrayal of Fred Rogers. I felt Hanks brought Rogers back to life on screen the moment he entered his television home in the first shot of the film. Hanks provokes thoughts of sadness, anger, and humanity as a whole, exactly as Rogers did when he was on the air, bringing a stunning performance in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood that is easily worthy of the Academy's attention. Matthew Rhys costars adjacent to Hanks and while he is the complete opposite of everything Fred Rogers exudes, the combination of the two results in a magical example of the human condition. Rhys’ Vogel shares the screen away from Rogers with Chris Cooper, who plays his disconnected father and Susan Kelechi Watson, who plays Vogel’s wife who is forced aside in order for him to focus all his energy on his journalism. The family conflict here is split, as while I felt a lot for Lloyd and his father’s separation, his wife and child are forced back to less important status in the overlaying story, however her lack of development doesn’t sacrifice the stability of the plot as it’s not about her and more about Lloyd as a whole.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
When I think of sound design in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, there's one tense and emotional scene that comes to mind, and Filipe Messeder (Sound Editor) delivered. We as an audience are forced into Lloyd and Fred's discussions, with a lesson attempting to be learned at each encounter - one of those moments is to think during an absolute moment of silence. During this moment, if you have an appropriate theater or manage to see it at home, you should be able to hear a pin drop. It's stellar editing that should absolutely be recognized for accolades. Composer Nate Heller duplicates the magnificent sound of 'Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood', as well as creating a wonderful score that magnifies the emotions that are evoked from the presence of the childhood favorite. Heller honors the magical world of sound that Mister Rogers and his crew created while on the air, as his musical outing here works fluently with the film itself and elevates every moment up an entire notch.
Production designer Jade Healy and set decorator Merissa Lombardo did a tremendous job recreating the sets of 'Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,’ so much so that when on screen, whether it be from the angle of the studio or the camera lens, it brought me back to when I was young and watching. To say I adored the set design and costume design would be an understatement; the world they built is a world I'm familiar with, maybe not to the extent of walking the streets like Lloyd, but I remember the world through the news my grandparents would play and of course the show, 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'. Tom Hanks looks as close to Fred Rogers as an actor could possibly be, the costume work and markup used in order to transform him is unbelievable, and once Hanks plays the part you forget entirely that it's him. The transitions between scenes that replicate the cityscapes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood may come off a tad jarring when they first appear before transitioning into the initial scene, but once they begin it’s a wonderful technique that makes the film uniquely Mister Rogers.
"Fame Is A Four-Letter Word. What Matters Is What We Do With It."
Genre: Biography. Drama.
I have a deep love and respect for Mister Rogers, for everything he represents is everything us as humans should be able to represent at all times, yet we fail to do so. Journalist Lloyd Vogel is a prime example of a man who believed humanity had failed until the teachings of Fred Rogers came into his life. The story being told here is a soulful true story of a man having to find himself in the wreckage of his life leading up to the moment he met Mr. Rogers. The direction is pure, and the storytelling resonates beautifully with fans of the icon. Hanks as Fred Rogers is an immense delight to sit back and relish as he is brought back to life once more on the big screen.