A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

 (42,503)7.31 h 48 min2019X-RayPG
Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship.
Marielle Heller
Tom HanksMatthew RhysSusan Kelechi Watson
English [CC]
Audio languages

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Supporting actors
Chris CooperChristine LahtiMaryann PlunkettEnrico ColantoniJessica HechtWendy MakkenaCarmen CusackNoah HarpsterTammy BlanchardMaddie CormanDaniel Krell
Youree HenleyPeter SarafMarc TurtletaubLeah Holzer
TriStar Pictures
PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
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4.5 out of 5 stars

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Carl SchultzReviewed in the United States on November 24, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
A Quietly Dynamic Portrait of an American Original
“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” Distributed by Sony Pictures Releasing, 107 Minutes, Rated PG, Released November 22, 2019:

Surprisingly, one of the most eagerly anticipated motion pictures this year is not an intergalactic science fiction shoot ‘em up or a lurid comic book-based all-star superhero spectacular, but a dramatic profile of a quiet, gentle, self-effacing, and genuinely kind man--a legendary children’s entertainer who, in his own words, devoted his life “to the broadcasting of grace through the land.”

In “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) by all appearances is living The American Dream, newly married with an infant son, working as a successful writer for a major national periodical. But in reality, Vogel is a man consumed with emotional anguish. Deserted as a boy by his irresponsible father and left to care for his dying mother, Vogel as an adult is being slowly devoured by a simmering rage, a festering sense of emotional discontent which is affecting even his job as an investigative reporter for Esquire magazine.

When the magazine devotes an issue to the subject of heroes, Vogel’s editor sends him to Pittsburgh to write a 400-word profile of children’s television personality Mister Rogers. The assignment is meant to be as much a rest for the journalist as an authentic professional mission: Such is Vogel’s recent journalistic reputation that out of twenty personalities to be profiled in the magazine’s "Heroes" issue, Rogers is the only one who agreed to interact with him, or sit for an interview.

Vogel arrives at Pittsburgh’s WQED studio to find Mister Rogers interrupting filming of his television show to interact with a disabled child. And although he’s initially impressed with Rogers’ obvious natural empathy and rapport with the child, Vogel is grimly determined to prove that the man’s legendary childlike persona is an act, a character he plays as a means of boosting the show's appeal. But as Rogers and the hardened journalist become friends over the course of the following days, Vogel instead finds to his surprise that Rogers is precisely who he purports to be...and that his own rage at life is slowly dissolving.

For “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” director Marielle Heller abandons traditional narrative structure, and uses as a template for her movie the prototype of a typical episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood,” with Fred Rogers occupying more or less the same role as the Stage Manager in Thornton Wilder’s play “Our Town.” Technically, Mister Rogers isn’t even the picture’s main character--the movie is actually the story of the journalist’s emotional redemption through his friendship and interactions with Rogers. As director Heller explains, “Fred Rogers was too advanced in his emotional evolution to be (the picture’s) protagonist.”

Adapted by “Maleficent: Mistress of Evil” screenwriters Noah Harpster and Micah Fitzerman-Blue from journalist Tom Junod’s anecdotal November 1998 Esquire magazine article “Can You Say...Hero?” Heller’s picture is more a fictionalized portrait of the famed children’s television personality than a traditional motion picture biography. And the filmmaker takes an artistic gamble by in effect breaking the fourth wall periodically, and inviting the viewer to participate in the onscreen activities. In that way, the picture is literally a sort of “Through the Looking Glass”...for both the journalist onscreen and the viewer in the audience.

Filmmaker Heller’s narrative gamble pays off, thanks largely to the powerful and evocative performance by actor Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers. His two Academy Awards prove that Tom Hanks is a terrific actor, but in a way the performer’s turn as the beloved children’s show personality might not be acting, or an imitation--which likely would’ve been disastrous--or even, by strict definition, a performance. By all appearances, Tom Hanks the actor instead seems to be channeling Mister Rogers’ very spirit.

Employing little more elaborate than a general approximation of Rogers' distinctive voice--"the sly voice," Tom Junod wrote in his 1998 Esquire article, "that sounds adult to the ears of a child and childish to the ears of an adult"--Hanks captures the essence of the man to an extent that when we hear the voice of the real Mister Rogers over the film’s closing credits we might well catch ourselves thinking, “No, no, no, that guy’s getting it all wrong.”

"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" surprisingly turns out to be a smart, challenging picture--challenging not in a way to, God forbid, exploit the wave of public sentiment many of us still feel for Mister Rogers since his 2003 death, or inspired by the popularity of Morgan Neville’s superb 2018 documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Heller's picture instead challenges us to intimacy--to be kind, to love not only our friends and family members, but everyone we encounter, our neighbors as well as ourselves. And, yes, to love them, and ourselves, even when we’re not at our most lovable.

The film’s challenge to the audience is depicted most effectively during a scene in which Rogers and the journalist are sharing lunch in a Chinese restaurant. When Rogers’ gentle probing into the journalist’s past, and the source of his rage, threatens to boil over into an emotional confrontation, Hanks’ Rogers quietly deflects the writer’s resentment by asking him to participate in an exercise--to take a moment to remember “all the people who’ve loved us into being.” And with that simple request, Rogers pauses, gazing silently at the journalist.

But then, as the conflicted writer puts aside his emotions to comply with the unusual request, Hanks as Rogers during the brief silence slowly turns his eyes toward the camera--and directly toward the audience, implicitly inviting, and even challenging, the viewer to join the journalist in the exercise onscreen. It’s an extremely powerful moment in a quietly powerful picture...as well as a genuine Moment of Truth: The scene is taken almost verbatim from the real Rogers’ acceptance speech in 1997, when he was awarded a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, a moment memorably broadcast live on national television.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” does occasionally grow indulgent with its subject, relying on the audience’s reminiscences of Rogers’ gentle spirit to carry it through some of its more dramatically shaky moments. At one point the journalist, overwhelmed by his own negativity, collapses into a faint during a taping of the children’s show and regains consciousness not in a hospital or medical clinic but in the Rogers’ home. And later, during a trip to the apartment Rogers keeps in New York, the writer is treated to an impromptu puppet show in which the familiar characters from the Land of Make Believe invite him to get in touch with his feelings. Honestly, in another film such scenes would convey vastly divergent signals.

But in the end, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” delivers us to where we ultimately think it will...or rather to where we want to go, and hope and even pray the movie might take us. This is a quietly dynamic motion picture regardless of the viewer’s age, demographic, or cultural distinction, filled with satisfying vignettes and scenes of heartwarming poignancy, and offering a significant and affecting message about understanding, acceptance, human dignity, and caring. But, hey...that's what neighbors are for.

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is rated PG for some strong thematic material, brief physical violence, and some language concerns.
319 people found this helpful
KatieScarlettReviewed in the United States on November 26, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
Thought Provoking and Insightful
This movie touched me deeply. It surprised me because I was expecting a chronicle of Mr. Roger's life, but instead it was not that at all--it is the story of how Mr. Rogers changed one man's life for good. This method of storytelling is very effective because it helps us learn by example. By watching this movie, I was able to see how important it is to care for the one. I also learned how critical it is to really listen with complete and sincere attention to the other person, and that this can be more vital than any other service we can possibly give another human being, no matter what their age. I learned that Mr. Rogers was not a perfect man, but he found ways to deal with anger and frustration in a positive way. All of these lessons, and many more, are depicted throughout this wonderful movie. It made me think about how much better the world could be if we would all focus on helping others in a personal way. Practically everyone is dealing with some issue from their past. Fred Rogers wanted all to know that there is so much good in people. He also stressed that your circumstances do not define you--you have so much to offer because you are unique. This movie shows that if we believe in the good in others, that good will indeed manifest itself.

I would recommend this movie to anyone ages 12 and up, due to some mature issues, like family problems (and how to deal with them). You will feel changed at the end of this movie. Indeed, it provides much food for thought, and could be a catalyst for great discussions on its topics.
224 people found this helpful
JamieReviewed in the United States on February 6, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Why did I buy this? It was awful - Can you get a refund for purchasing bad movies?
Verified purchase
The plot is completely fictional. There is 0-5% truth in there. This is not about Mr. Rogers, its about a made up story about a fictional reporter. I thought it would be heartfelt, maybe about Mr. Rogers life, the one viewers never saw - nope, its a BS story about no one. I was not convinced Tom Hanks was Mr. Rogers, probably his worst movie, but maybe that is because who ever wrote the script wrote a story about a reporter no one wanted to produce so he said, "hey what if we add Mr. Rogers and make Tom Hanks star in it." Complete garbage, would like a refund.
183 people found this helpful
ChristopherReviewed in the United States on February 9, 2020
3.0 out of 5 stars
Just OK.
Verified purchase
As a native Pittsburgher, I have to say that while this movie was incredibly well-acted, it simply didn't capture the essence of Fred Rodgers. I have watched Mr. Rodgers Neighborhood since I was a kid. I've watched countless documentaries about Fred, and it just seemed that this movie dumbed him down, a bit. Oversimplified him, if you will.

All that to say - this wasn't really a movie about Mr. Rodgers - it's about an angry writer and the strained relationship he has with his father. Fred helps this character reconcile this relationship and, I guess, that IS the true essence of Fred -- how he made us dig a little deeper to be a little more kind, but overall, this movie fell a little flat and missed the mark a bit for me.

If this Review was helpful please let me know by clicking the 'helpful button below this review
99 people found this helpful
V. H.Reviewed in the United States on February 5, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
Disappointed hated it.
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I’m not a sheeple, so here’s my honest opinion...
Of all of the many things one could have said about Fred Rogers I was sorely disappointed with the “message” Hollywood tried to hammer home. I wish I would not have waisted my time or money.
90 people found this helpful
Lgfranks Reviewed in the United States on February 8, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Mr. Rogers is the Original Gangsta' of Love.
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As far as movies go, I'm a geek.

I love me some Lord of the Rings and (mainly the original) Star Wars, and Braveheart was always up there, too--

But I have to say that "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" might just be my very favorite movie ever, along with another I'll mention here--

"Finding Joe" a documentary on Joseph Campbell, the originator of the Hero's Journey concept and the one who said, "Follow your bliss."

These are my favorites because movies can affect our lives. They move way beyond entertainment and at least for me, they truly inspire me to be a better person.

No spoilers if you haven't seen it!

The movie was a bit sappy, a little formulaic and predictable. But as Mr. Rogers would say, "...and that's okay."

What was great is that it was honest about this amazing man, and how he chose to live.

To tell you the truth, I didn't really watch Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood as a kid. I found it a little boring, and by the time I saw it, the whole puppet thing had lost its appeal--

But--what failed to strike my imagination as a kid from a broken home, now inspires me as a better way to live.

Here are a few of the concepts from the movie that I had to break out my phone and type out on Evernote as the credits were rolling:


The most important person...is you. It's the person with whom I'm talking. Mr. Rogers displayed that in the movie (and in real life), but paying such close attention to whoever was talking--whether that was a three-year-old or a celebrity. He did it for adults, kids, and always made whomever he was with feel extraordinarily special. We can all learn from that.


Mr. Rogers brought up topics like death, divorce, and war on his show--because they are all human conditions.

He didn't shy away from them, and gave the kids the truth, but painted in a way that could help them make sense of tragedy.

One of my favorite lines of his was, "Look for the helpers."

That's the advice his mother gave to him when seeing scenes of a disaster. 

That's just so comforting...and there will ALWAYS be helpers, those good-hearted people who try to make things better even in the worst situations we can imagine.


Fred Rogers was a minister. He helped build Public Television. He inspired millions of kids, to help make them more kind, compassionate, and loving.

But he refused to think of himself as a hero.

He maintained a modest lifestyle, he never boasted and made each moment about others whom he was with.

That kind of humility is just really inspiring, and truly a lost art form in the age of social media and the sound byte.

But, yes, you were definitely a hero, Mr. Rogers.

He also acknowledged hard times while raising his son, losing his usually unflappable cool, and never put himself on a pedestal. He was called a Saint by many, and always denied it...but of course, that's what a Saint would do.


This three-word phrase promoted tolerance in the simplest, most effective way there is.

He often said these words to kids who were feeling complex emotions, who were hurt, angry or confused. 

He told kids it was okay to have human emotions...to cry, to yell, to let it all out.

He made it okay to feel what we were all feeling.

For us as adults, it's okay for people to have different opinions.

There's a lot of name-calling and demonization in politics these days. But you know what? We have different ideas often...and that's okay.


I'm particularly fond of this one, as my granddad, whom we called Pe-paw did it--and inspires me to do the same. There's just something very sweet about that.

I get teary-eyed when I think of my Pe-paw praying for me by name as a kid.

I always drew a lot of comfort from that, and I remember specifically being bullied in the 4th grade and knowing my granddad prayed for me, saying my name...it helped a lot some days.

Mr. Rogers did that, too. And that says so much for his character.


When asked if he felt that he "carried a burden," Fred deflected the question.

It had to be hard being in the spotlight for decades, dealing with fans that always wanted a piece of his attention and time...of leading kids through responsible ways of acting year, after year.

But he never seemed to complain. No matter how hard it was, he considered his position as a privilege and an honor. It was hard--it had to be, yet he would never ask for nor want sympathy.


Fred often saw people as the children they once were, and in many ways, still are.

I know I still feel like a kid, and often act like one. And I bet you do too, sometimes.

If you harbor resentment for someone (even yourself), think of them as a child. We were all children, once.

Sometimes, when I find my Inner Critic being particularly harsh or I'm feeling down about myself...I remember myself as a child. I think of that smiling, sometimes sad little blonde-haired boy, and I know he wouldn't want me to be so hard on myself.

It's a little like the adage, "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle we know nothing about."


"We are trying to give the world positive ways to deal with their feelings."

These are the right ways to take out anger, frustration, and sadness.

We don't need to do it with each other. 

Life is sometimes freaking hard, and bottling up emotions isn't the best way to deal with it. But you can bang the piano sometimes. That can help.


I think he actually said this in the movie, and maybe it was to an adult.

"I think that the best thing we can do for people is to let each one of them know they are precious."

You know what? We are ALL precious, and you shouldn't feel the need to conform or hide what makes you different.

As adults, we see simplistic statements like this and get all cynical and defensive--but it's absolutely true.

This kind of unconditional love for others...that's really where it's at. We can all strive to have this kind of attitude and caring for others.


One of my very favorite moments of the movie is when all dialogue stopped, and no one said a word for one whole minute after Fred encouraged us to think of, "people who have loved you into loving."

Okay, I know this is a post and you have some stuff to do--but I challenge you to do this.

Set a timer for one minute, close your eyes, and think of people who have given you love in your life, and helped to make you the person you are, whether they're still here with us or if they've moved on from life.

Come on! Have a little courage and do it.

Once you do--you can realize just how powerful and touching this is.


And those, my friend, are some of the reasons I loved this movie.

I hope if you haven't seen it, you'll give it a shot. After writing this, I want to go and see it again.

With that, I hope you are doing better than well. Remember that you are precious and I like you just the way you are, too!

Chip Franks 💙👍
76 people found this helpful
ErikaReviewed in the United States on February 23, 2020
1.0 out of 5 stars
What on earth?
Verified purchase
I LOVE Mr. Rogers.
I love Tom Hanks.
I hated this movie. Truly hated it.

Tom is not convincing to me, and honestly, I don't think anyone could be. This is not even a movie about Mr. Rogers, however, and that was the most disappointing part. Weird hallucinations and disturbing scenes (glad I didn't watch this with my kids!), a story about an angry man and his dad, and what amounts to a few cameo scenes of Tom Hanks looking and sounding exactly like Tom Hanks. It was really one of the worst movies I've ever seen. You know it's bad when you feel cheated for spending the five bucks to rent a movie. And I certainly do. Don't bother with this one. Sad I did.
74 people found this helpful
M. OlesonReviewed in the United States on November 29, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
4 1/2 stars. A heartfelt, quietly emotional film of love and forgiveness.
Theater review. Possible spoilers. I don’t think I ever watched an entire episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.” Of course I was aware of both the man and the show and the reported wonderful work Rogers did, especially for children. I also saw the excellent (4.5 stars) documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor” which came out in 2018. So, is this dramatic film redundant? No. In fact, Tom Hanks who plays Rogers passed several times on various scripts. Studios persisted and eventually hired director Marielle Heller (“The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) for the project. With a script by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, Heller approached Hanks one more time. This time he took the role on the proviso that this wasn’t going to be a traditional bio-pic and it’s not.

Rogers is a key element but the story is really about Lloyd Vogel well played by Emmy winner Matthew Rhys (“The Americans”). Lloyd Vogel is a pseudoname for Esquire magazine writer Tom Junod. The film is a leadup to Vogel’s award winning profile of Rogers in 1998 called “Can You Say…Hero?” Vogel was a broken man, seemingly weakened by the relationship with his estranged father Jerry (Chris Cooper). As a young man, Jerry, then a drunk abandon his wife, who was dying of cancer, Lloyd and his sister Lorraine (Tammy Blanchard).

Lloyd was asked by his editor, Ellen (Christine Lahti) to write a short bio on Rogers for an upcoming article on American heroes. Lloyd wanted no part of it but was forced to acquiesce. Lloyd, married to Andrea (Susan Kelechi Watson), is a new parent to a baby boy, so Andrea put her career on hold while Lloyd does everything to keep him away from sharing parental duties. He questions his own fitness as a father given his relationship with his own.

Lloyd assumes Fred Rogers is a different man than the ever kind, thoughtful and soft spoken character he portrays on television. He finds out differently, quite quickly when he goes to Pittsburgh to interview Rogers. Heller brilliantly guides the film and the interaction between the 2 leads is perfect. Without realizing it, Lloyd has a new friend whether he wanted one or not. Rogers softly interjects himself into Lloyd’s personal life and Lloyd begins to open up and eventually heal. Fred suggests there are ways to address times when he’s mad or upset or doesn’t feel well. Scream in the shower, bang the bass keys on the piano. Whatever works.

There are some great scenes in the film. Probably the most noticeable one is the one in the trailers. While riding a NYC subway, Fred and Lloyd are serenaded with his show's theme song by just about everyone one on the car. Fred is recognized by kids, teens and middle aged adults. I don’t know if this really happened but I hope it did.

A couple others are quiet and could be overlooked. In one, Lloyd and Fred meet for lunch in a small café. Lloyd has just had a confrontation with his father who is trying to get back into Lloyd’s life. Fred noticing Lloyd is visibly upset, asks him if he would share a minute to silently reflect on the people who made them who they are today. Reluctantly Lloyd goes along with it and sits quietly with Fred. Others in the small room notice, put their forks away and join in.

Finally in the last scene, Fred is finishing a show and grimaces slightly and holds his back. It’s barely noticeable but he does it again. Everyone is now gone from the set and he sits down at the piano - he was an accomplished pianist. Fred plays a few notes then suddenly hits the keys on the lower end of the keyboard with both hands…hard. Highly recommended.
97 people found this helpful
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