Written By: Claudia V. Saldaña
Last weekend, Sony Pictures Entertainment invited a group of social influencers to screen the new Tom Hanks movie, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood in which Hanks plays the role of Fred Rogers, the beloved children’s television icon. Prior to viewing the movie, I did have some trepidation on whether Hanks would be able to pull off the role. Would I be able to sit through the entirety of the movie engrossed in the belief that it really was Mr. Rogers up on screen? The doubts dissipated within minutes of the movie starting. Hanks was able to capture Mr. Rogers in every sense of the way.
Thank you Sony Pictures for inviting us to screen, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” All opinions are my own.
Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about kindness, love and forgiveness from America’s most beloved neighbor.
This movie is not a bio pic about the life of Mr. Rogers which is what I was hoping to see, but even so, this movie did not disappoint.
It’s a different take on the life of Mr. Rogers and through it we still managed to gain some insight into how he came to hold the views which made him so memorable and yet often times viewed with much cynicism.
Could a human being truly be as compassionate and genuinely nice as Mr. Rogers made himself out to be? Was there perhaps a hidden agenda that Mr. Rogers possessed or maybe some sleazy secret he was hiding from the rest of the world? I mean, Bill Cosby certainly fooled the world for years. And to helps answer these questions, in comes Lloyd Vogel, the protagonist of the movie played by Matthew Rhys.
Vogel is the magazine journalist tasked with having to interview Mr. Rogers for a small piece on heroes.
He is skeptical of Mr. Rogers and sneers at the idea of him being considered a hero. In the process, Vogel finds himself in a constant push/pull battle with Mr. Rogers’ optimistic views on humanity. His negative outlook stems from the childhood trauma of having a mother who died while he was still a teenager and an absentee father who abandoned the family to deal with the loss on their own.
It is with the help of Mr. Rogers that Vogel is finally able to deal with anger he’s been holding onto and mend his relationship with his father. And to answer the question I raised above, yes, it seems Mr. Rogers truly was a genuinely nice human being.