A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood - Won't you be my Neighbor?
"It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood; a beautiful day for a neighbor. Would you be mine? Could you be mine?"
These are the words that began every episode of the iconic children's program, Mister Roger's Neighborhood, as Fred Rogers sang to every child that would tune in from 1968 to 2001. Thus, what would be more fitting than to take us into the world of Mister Rogers than for the similarly iconic Tom Hanks to appear and sing us into this latest episode of Mister Rogers.
However, this episode on forgiveness focuses on the fictional Lloyd Vogel, and, yet, the lessons are the same. Based upon the article "Can you say....Hero" by Tom Junod, the writers of this episode take time to carefully and artfully craft this movie within an episode in a perfect tribute to the legacy of Fred Rogers. This starts wonderfully by the cinematography recreation in the first scene making it seem as if we are fully immersed in another episode with the distorted low-budget PBS look of the show and Hanks coming through the door in the classic start to every episode. This is continued throughout as the ingenious device used to tell this story and lesson of forgiveness.
Moreover, Hanks' performance is rather commendable. Outside of his voice tone, Hanks matches many of the small mannerisms, speech pattern, and small ticks that many of us came to love about Mister Rogers while also not making his portrayal into an impression or caricature. This is the difficulty of any actor who plays a real person, and his duty here is appreciated for its grace toward a figure that is still ingrained in many who grew up with Mister Rogers. Additionally, Matthew Rhys is always a revelation anytime he graces the screen. His muted performance of anger and resentment are spot on for anyone who has ever held onto such powerful emotions.
Finally, the sign of any good teacher is that his lessons endure long after he is gone. Thanks to A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, Fred Rogers is still able to continue to teach us valuable lessons on positively dealing with our emotions like anger, resentment, hostility, hurt, and betrayal; lessons that are especially prescient in our current outrage and anger pop culture. It is a wonderful tribute and a wholesome family movie you could definitely recommend to all.
Grade: Recommendable and Rewatchable