Sitting down to review the new film about Fred Rogers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, I fear I am going to come across as very negative, so let me state out front: this movie is perfectly amiable and pleasant to watch. I will give it a fresh review. Unfortunately I found the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor about Fred Rogers from last year to be outstanding. It was one of my favorites of the whole year, so I can’t help but feel a little bit disappointed with this just ok narrative movie.
I will be shocked if all the critics don’t at least agree that Tom Hanks is perfectly cast as Mr Rogers and his scenes carry the film. However, he is not the lead character, which was a mistake. Matthew Rhys is fine as a the cynical journalist interviewing Fred Rogers for a column in Esquire, but he felt kind of like a case of generic bitter-man syndrome. I wanted to spend more time with Fred Rogers and was anxious to get back to his more layered and interesting character.
They were very careful to not cheapen Fred Rogers’ legacy or scandalize him in any way but the documentary was so much more profound in showing the impact Fred had on millions of children. It had one touching scene after another profiling how his decision to love created a movement of kindness, which blessed so many lives. In this film he seems more like a nice man who makes pies for a few select people. It’s not the same.
Chris Cooper is very good as Rhys’ elderly father. He has been a huge disappointment to his children, and he may be seeking forgiveness a little too late. (Nobody plays a bitter, angry father like Chris Cooper!). There are nice moments between Rhys and Susan Kelechi Watson who plays his very patient wife, and I loved a scene where Fred Rogers prays individually for all of the Vogel family members by name, even the little baby.
I also loved a scene where Fred Rogers is on a train and all the people sing ‘Won’t You Be My Neighbor’ to him and it seems to brighten everyone’s day. I wish there was more of Fred Rogers interacting with the people.
In fact, there is a great moment in the documentary, which I was sure they would include, where Fred is testifying before Congress to get PBS funding and he is able to win over the heart of a crusty old Senator from his speech. It’s such a cinematic life-moment and would have been easy to include with a flashback or something.
I don’t know. Like I said. I am being harder on it than I probably should. I just think the documentary is much better. But A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a perfectly serviceable and amiable film. If people are opposed to seeing documentaries than they will probably love it. As for me, it’s fine, but not as great as I was hoping for.
Watch the documentary and then if you want more watch this…
6 out of 10
5 thoughts on “[REVIEW] ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’: Watch the Documentary and then See this Ok Movie”
I also am hesitant about what I will think of this film after being bowled over by the amazing Won’t You Be My Neighbor documentary!
The clip of Mr. Rogers testifying before the senator is a clip I watch a lot when I want a good cry or a good feeling about how it is possible to inspire and change people. I also would have thought they’d include that scene in the film.
I remember when Hanks played Walt Disney, I just felt it was Hanks with a mustache. I’m hoping I can actually feel that Hanks is Mr. Rogers in this film.
Good review! I haven’t seen this film or the documentary, but I’ve heard excellent things about the latter! Since you’re a Youtuber, I wanted to ask if you’re aware of what’s happening with COPPA? Because your channel, Rachel’s Reviews, features a series about family-friendly films and discusses animated movies, I wanted to give you a heads up so you wouldn’t be caught off-guard. Because videos on your other channel, Hallmarkies Podcast, sometimes use animation in the thumbnails, I’m not sure how that channel will be affected.
Yeah I’m still trying to figure out what the best path is. I have my channels as not made for children just to be safer but I’m definitely thinking about my thumbnails and such. It’s so dumb. Thanks for looking out for me
You’re welcome! I’ve watched a few videos about the topic and at least one Youtuber has suggested a get a lawyer involved. Apparently, there’s a petition for content creators and others who are concerned to voice their opinions. Hopefully, things can get revolved in a way that makes everyone satisfied.