“A Beautiful Day in the
Neighborhood” is a biographical
fi lm that is loosely inspired by the
1998 Esquire article “Can You Say
… Hero?” by Tom Junod. It depicts
a fi ctionalized version of Junod and
his encounter with Fred Rogers,
known on television as Mr. Rogers.
The fi lm stars Tom Hanks as Fred
Rogers and Matthew Rhys as Lloyd
Vogel, a character based on Junod.
Taking place in 1998, the fi lm
follows Vogel as he is assigned
to interview Rogers, the creator
and star of “Mister Rogers’
Neighborhood” for an article.
wanting to fi nd Rogers’ attitude as
an act, Vogel travels to Pittsburgh
to interview him.
He watches many of Rogers’
interviews as well as episodes
from the show but is unable to fi nd
Vogel’s attitude towards Rogers
changes over the course of the
film. While initially skeptical of
Rogers’ attitude and demeanor,
Vogel eventually warms up to him
and fi nally understands his appeal.
Rogers even helps Vogel and
gets him to finally confront his
own personal issues, such as his
estranged relationship with his
While the plot line of the fi lm is
solid, there are a few things from
a production side that weren’t, but
some that were.
The film starts off with a
recreation of the opening from the
show, with Hanks as Rogers singing
the theme just like in the show.
The movie plays almost like an
episode from the show, with the plot
line with Vogel being shown as if
Rogers was telling it as a story in
A quarter way through the fi lm,
Mr. McFeely, who was played by
David Newell in real life and played
by Daniel Krell, as Newell, in the
fi lm, stops by and delivers Rogers
a video about how magazines are
made and they both watch it.
The magazine shown being made
is the one Vogel works for.
So while the beginning and
middle make it feel like the movie
is being told as an episode from
the show, the ending ruins that
Towards the end of the film
,Rogers starts to end the show just
as how the real show ends.
However, instead of just cutting
to the credits after he fi nishes the
ending song, it cuts to the studio as
if they just fi nished the scene.
It just felt distracting as the entire
movie felt like an episode of the
show and to have it cut to the studio
after broke the immersion.
I did feel that it was a nice touch
to include archive footage of the
real Fred Rogers during the end
credits which is footage from the
show of Rogers singing “You’ve
Got to Do It.”
Tom Hanks is by no means a
bad actor, but he wasn’t the perfect
casting choice for the role of Rogers.
Rogers was much thinner than
Hanks and his voice had an almost
metal robotic tone to it, while
Hanks’voice in the fi lm sounded
like it had a fuzz to it.
In a fi lm like “Vice,” Christian
Bale was cast perfectly as Dick
Cheney and portrayal of him was
Hanks, on the other hand, doesn’t
really fi t the look of Rogers.
Hanks is, however, able to capture
the spirit of Rogers.
In one scene Vogel opens up to
Rogers that he had gotten into a
physical fi ght with his father a few
Hanks perfectly capture Rogers’
demeanor and attitude when he asks
Vogel to go more into the fight. It
really made you feel as if it was
Tom Hanks, despite my qualms,
does manage to capture the spirt
of Rogers that will bring back
memories to any person who grew
up watching the show.
Even if you didn’t grow
up watching the show, you can
understand the impact he had on
the lives of many people and why
he is still cherished even 16 years
after his passing.
This film was a nostalgia trip
worth taking and whether you’ve
seen the show or not.
BY RAYMOND NAVA