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  • Don Ford

Don Reviews "A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood"

You may know my partial bias to the city of Pittsburgh (tongue firmly planted in cheek). Because of my love for the Steel City, I also know of its famous residents like Andy Warhol, but one of its most famous is Fred Rogers. If you are in my age range, we grew up watching his show, “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” and even though it may have been nerdy to admit it at the time, it is now a badge of honor to say you were (and still are) a fan of his. And now, in back-to-back years, is a second film where he is a major figure.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” was directed by Marielle Heller (Transparent) and features Tom Hanks (Forrest Gump), Matthew Rhys (The Americans), Susan Kelechi Watson (The Blacklist), Christine Lahti (Becks), Chris Cooper (American Beauty) and Wendy Makkena (Sister Act). Based on an article from Esquire magazine with the names changed due the poetic license, Lloyd Vogel (Rhys) is sent to do a story on Mr. Rogers (Hanks) for their “Heroes” issue. Vogel is known for doing fairly scathing articles, and even though his editor knows this is a change for him, she sends him to do four hundred words and try to keep it from ruining the man. From there, the film tells the story of the interview itself (which ended up taking a lot longer than he expected) and how it changed his life.

I really loved the look of the film, actually taking place in Pittsburgh where some parts of the city were converted to look like New York and the studio scenes were actually filmed in the same location where Mr. Rogers did his show. The filming and cinematography fit the mood of the film, even using the transitions between Pittsburgh, then to New York much like were done on “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood”. Hanks does an incredible job to the point that I felt like he became the character despite trying a bit too hard to match his voice. Rhys and Watson also do a great job as a married couple whose relationship evolves even more as the story unfolds, and you may hear all three of their names attached to some bit award nominations soon.

I did enjoy the story, but I was hoping that this was more about Mr. Rogers himself instead of about Lloyd and how his life changed. Granted, I did enjoy the film, but if Hanks gets nominated for this, it should be as best supporting actor given the way it is structured. Even though this was not what I was expecting, I will still definitely recommend this film, but only as a twilight showing in theaters.

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