Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Matthew Rhys in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood sounds from the title like it should be about Fred Rogers and Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. It’s really about how Fred Rogers influenced the life of Esquire Magazine writer Lloyd Vogel.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is part fantasy, part reality, part dreams, and all kindness and goodness. Marielle Heller directed this unusually told story, which is based on fact. With quirky animations, toy houses, and a dose of reality, the tale is told.

Matthew Rhys in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) was dispatched by his magazine to do a 400 word puff piece on an American hero, namely Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks).

Tom Hanks in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

By the time Fred Rogers had done his work on the cynical and angry reporter, the story became 10,000 words and put Fred Rogers on the cover of Esquire. What happened?

Fred Rogers happened. He was as kind, gentle, loving, and accepting in life as he was on television. He recognized that Vogel needed to forgive his father and let go of his anger.

When Lloyd and his wife Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson) were headed to his sister Lorraine’s (Tammy Blanchard) 3rd wedding, they learned his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) would be there. Father and son celebrated the wedding with a fist fight. When Lloyd Vogel met Mister Rogers for the first time, his face was all banged up from that fight.

With love, kindness, and gentle caring, Fred managed to extend what should have been a single interview into numerous visits and interviews. He finally cracked though the shell of Lloyd’s anger. It changed not only Lloyd’s relationship with this father but with his wife and infant son as well.

Mister Rogers told children every day that he liked them just the way they were. But adults need to know they are lovable just as they are, too. That was Rogers’ gift to Lloyd Vogel and to everyone he came in contact with. What you are is enough, is right. At this time in our country’s history, that message is as important – more important – than ever.

The sense of kindness and love in the movie may bring a tear to your eyes. Perhaps, like Lloyd Vogel, you need a reminder that every part of you is likeable just the way it is, too. Carry Kleenex.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a lovely film. Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys do a marvelous job. I recommend you watch it, if you already haven’t. Or watch it again.

poster for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Have a look at the trailer. This movie, which came out in 2019, is now streaming on STARZ.

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