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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Movie Review: Tom Hanks' film is a beloved dedication to the brokenhearted

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Movie Review: Tom Hanks' portrayal of the American hero, Fred Rogers, is anything but caricaturish. Instead, we get a performance so natural that it's hard to isolate Tom Hanks and Mister Rogers. 
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is slated to release on January 17, 2020.A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is slated to release on January 17, 2020.
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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Director: Marielle Heller

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Stars: 4/5

"He would say that Donald Trump was a child once too," Tom Junod wrote about the enigma that was Fred Rogers, in his 2019 The Atlantic piece titled My Friend Mister Rogers. Known to millions as Mister Rogers, Fred was a beloved television personality and Presbyterian minister known for the iconic children's program Mister Rogers' Neighborhood. Marielle Heller, along with writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, chose to replicate the magic of Fred Rogers onscreen with A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, which couldn't have come at a better time.

Based on the knockout 1998 profile piece for Esquire titled Can You Say ... Hero? by Tom Junod, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood chronicles the friendship established between Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and Lloyd Vogel (Mathew Rhys, Junod specifically asked for the journalist's name to be changed to deviate himself from the storyline). Lloyd is your archetypical protagonist riddled by cynism which is established by major daddy issues. His introductory sequence sees Vogel punch his father during his sister's wedding. Then comes along an assignment, what Llyod refers to as a puff piece, where he has to do a profile on fellow American hero, Mister Rogers. The rest of the film showcases the major influence that God-loving Fred had on his new friend, Llyod and how the cynicism instilled in the journalist was replaced by something more profound.

Absolutely no one, other than Tom Hanks could bring forward the sincerity that was Mister Rogers. When his wife quizzes him on how Rogers was post their first meeting, Vogel with scoffing regret states that he's the nicest man he's ever met! A brilliant description of a brilliant man who genuinely embodied the television personality we got to see on our television screens. Tom's testament as a genius performer shines through with Mister Rogers, as it's not a caricaturish portrayal of an American hero, rather a natural selection. You're blinded by his screen presence to such an extent that it's difficult to isolate Tom Hanks from Fred Rogers. On the other hand, Matthew is aptly cast as the self-interested and skeptical journalist, who is consumed by so much hurt, that the broken pieces felt unmendable. It's his stiff exterior with a soft heart inside that embodies what many would find relatable. The camaraderie between Hanks and Rhys is extremely heartwarming and is the perfect catalyst to pay homage to a great individual.

This fast-paced Marielle Heller directorial doesn't delve much into the technical aspects, besides cleverly going back and forth between the nostalgic production value of Mister Rogers' Neighborhood set pieces and real-time POV's. However, it's the storyline pattern and acting performances that accomplish the lesson Mister Rogers always imparted - you can always fix a broken heart by a little empathy from the outside and setting yourselves free from the inside. There's a poignant sequence between Rogers and Vogel in a cafe, where Fred asks Vogel to partake in exercising silence for a whole minute. As everyone in the restaurant maintains pin-drop silence, the camera pans to Rogers, who breaks the fourth wall and looks directly at the audience. And I would be lying if I didn't feel exactly the way Lloyd Vogel broke in those precious 60 seconds.

ALSO READ: Tom Hanks initially DIDN’T want to portray Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood; Here's Why

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is not just relevant in today's day and age but is universally applicable for generations to come as Fred Rogers' way of life is something we could all live by! No matter how unattainable it may seem!

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