A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Showcases the Life of Mr. Rogers,

Written by Edwin L. Carpenter on . Posted in Local

mrrogerspicMr. RogersI was curious as to how Tom Hanks would portray Mr. Fred Rogers when I attended an advance screening of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. I needn't have worried. The two-time Oscar winner captures the spirit of the children's host who emphasized kindness during his years as a TV host. Hanks sounds similar to Rogers without overdoing it—it is a subtle and nuanced performance. His kindness and warmth shines through and even Rogers's widow, Joanne, shows up in the beginning to introduce the movie and says she believes Mr. Rogers would have been very happy in knowing Tom Hanks portrayed him.

Whereas the documentary from a year ago, Won't You Be My Neighbor? used clips from old shows to teach his lessons, such as dealing with anger and forgiveness, the new theatrical release dramatizes his story as he interacts with various people and attempts to help them. The main focus of the movie involves a story based on true events. A character named Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is a hurting and angry man. His mother, whom he adored, died when he was still a kid and his father, Jerry (portrayed by Chris Cooper), had left the family for another woman before Lloyd's mom passed away. The character of Lloyd Vogel is based on journalist Tom Junod, who wrote an inspiring Esquire feature story on Rogers in 1997. Junod had started out with a lot of skepticism about Rogers but came to find a warm and genuinely kind man, and Rogers impacted his life. One of the scenes in the movie features Mr. Rogers telling Lloyd at lunch to share a moment of silence with him, just for a moment, to remember the loved ones who have touched his life. It has a profound impact on Lloyd, as a tear is seen in his eye. Rogers manages to get Lloyd to open up and share his feelings.


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In another scene Lloyd is interviewing Rogers and Rogers admits to having had a few difficulties in raising his boys, especially his eldest son, who was embarrassed about the attention his famous father from the neighborhood generated. "It must have been hard to be the son of Mr. Rogers," says Lloyd. After a pregnant pause, Rogers humbly says, "Thank you for that perspective." Lloyd can't get over how Rogers always remains kind and keeps a hopeful perspective.

Lloyd asks him in another scene if he ever gets angry. Rogers explains that he deals with it in a few different ways. We see him playing the piano and he suddenly hits the piano keys very hard and goes, "Boooiiiingg!" in imitation of hitting the keys hard. He speaks of the various ways that steam can be let off, even by taking a swim.

There is no doubt that Rogers had a profound effect on people and continue to emphasize his themes of kindness and forgiveness. Lloyd had planned to write an expose about Rogers, revealing a man who couldn't possibly be the real deal. Instead, he wrote an article about how Rogers impacted his life in a remarkable way.

The movie does feature a few utterances of language, such as "Da*mit" but the language is used in a few spots when the characters are upset or angry and the Lord's name is not taken in vain.

Tom Hanks has always been considered a likeable actor and man, and he certainly brings the spirit of Mr. Fred Rogers to life in this film. This movie might actually inspire viewers to always find a kind perspective in difficult situations or even with difficult people. That was one of his lasting legacies—Mr. Rogers always managed to be kind, even when it might not have been easy to be. This movie is well worth seeing and it premieres November 22.

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Author Information
Edwin L. Carpenter
Edwin L. Carpenter is a pastor and long-time film reviewer for Dove.org He has a bachelors degree in Writing from Cornerstone University in Grand Rapids, Mich. He was raised in Brighton, Mich., by Christian grandparents and has a twin brother, Bill, who is also an ordained minister. Ed and his wife Jackie have one child, Daniel, who is newly married to Kristen and loves sports.

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