Movie Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Plot Summary:
When a cynical investigative journalist is tasked with writing a profile of the famous Fred Rogers, he gets more than he bargained for and experiences the life-changing impact of Mister Rogers firsthand.
Image result for a beautiful day in the neighborhood

Why It Makes My List:
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is an unusually touching portrayal of an uncommonly kind man. It not only presents the impact of Mister Rogers, but shows how one's life can change by choosing to forgive, love and listen. While Matthew Rhys, who plays the journalist, could arguably be considered the lead actor instead of Tom Hanks, the lifestyle and impact of Fred Rogers permeate the film and led this viewer to wonder, "How might I apply these principles in my life and in my family so that I can be a kinder, happier person?" Any movie that can lead someone to do that is a diamond in the rough.

Other Reasons to Watch:
  1. Tom Hanks: Tom Hanks is arguably one of the greatest actors of our generation. While I wouldn't say that he looks much like Fred Rogers, he was certainly a terrific choice to exemplify the charity, kindness, and thoughtfulness of the man. I have no qualms with his performance and, though it was an absolutely essential aspect of the film to get right, he nailed it.
  2. Nostalgia Abounds: Those who are familiar with the characters, music, and subject matter of the television program, will feel all kinds of nostalgic throughout the film. The music, puppets, and style of the original program pop-up all throughout the film.
  3. Innovative Filmmaking: There was a very special moment about halfway through the film during which the filmmakers made a daring choice. They invited the audience to take a moment, to think deeply about something along with the characters. It was a quiet moment - it was not rushed - and Tom Hanks arguably broke the fourth wall by staring directly into the camera in such a way that caused us to think. This was a courageous decision and could have easily disrupted the magic of the moviegoing experience, but was, instead, refreshingly original and thought-provoking.
Tom Hanks (and Daniel Tiger) in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Courtesy of TIFF

Reason to Pass:
  1. Heavy Subject Matter: The subject matter and themes of this film, like many of the topics discussed on the Mister Rogers program, are weighty and serious - which may or may not be what you're looking for in a movie night.  Traumatizing family relationships, illness, hurt, and death. Nevertheless, as Fred Rogers once taught, "Anything that's human is mentionable, and anything that is mentionable can be more manageable. When we can talk about our feelings, they become less overwhelming, less upsetting, and less scary." Is the whole film sunshine and rainbows? No. But neither is life. Mister Rogers did not ask us to ignore our feelings and frustrations, but to truly feel them and face them and move forward. While I wouldn't call it a kids movie, it can certainly help you to be a better parent and a kinder person.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is in a theater near you. 
As always, I recommend checking out the Parents Guide just so that you are aware of any potentially objectionable material before deciding whether to watch it.