Saturday, December 7, 2019

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, 2019 - ★★★★½

Mr. Rogers is a role that Tom Hanks was born to play. The consummate nice-guy actor fully embodies the role of nice-guy children's TV show host. Hanks' performance oozes empathy and sincerity and never comes across as hacky or corny. The film, directed by Marielle Heller is a beautiful look at the life of magazine writer Lloyd Vogel (portrayed brilliantly by Matthew Rhys) who is struggling to find his way as a writer, new father and son to an estranged father (Chris Cooper). The film plays out like an episode of Mr. Rogers Neighborhood targeted at grown-ups and Heller does a wonderful job of cross-cutting scenes from the show with real-life interactions between Lloyd, Mr. Rogers and his attempt to reconcile with his dad. The scenes toward the end with Cooper and Rhys are powerful and brought out a few tears in me.

I really enjoyed this film and can't recommend it enough. The only problem I had with it was watching This Is Us' Susan Kelechi Watson play Lloyd's wife. Her performance was OK, but I feel she'll always be Randall's wife from the TV show and I couldn't really believe her in this role for some reason. Of course this is a minor nitpick. See this movie which comes across as chicken soup for the soul and a great tandem film to the Won't You Be My Neighbor documentary about Fred Rogers. Tom Hanks is a national treasure and this is another in a long line of classic performances to add to his resume.

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