Mr Rogers doesn’t have the cultural significance in the UK that he had, and continues to have in the US. Indeed, until 2018’s Documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? my knowledge of Mr Rogers was solely from the fact he is referenced in the classic Lemon Demon comedy song and YouTube video The Ultimate Showdown of Ultimate Destiny. In fact I clearly remember the confusion in my school as to who Mr Roger was. All of this is just to suggest that Marielle Heller’s exploration of Mr Rogers through a fictional journalist, Lloyd Vogel, writing an article on the presenter is never going to hit as hard in the UK.
Despite this I found A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood to be a delightful film experience. Told from Vogel’s view, as a jaded journalist and new dad, whose commitment to his job appears to be putting him on a similar path to his own father, with whom he has no real relationship to speak of. The film explored Mr Rogers’ impact on Vogel’s life, and the wholesome and positive world view that Mr Rogers championed. Matthew Rhys is fantastic as Vogel, and the way he slowly breaks down the guarded layers of the character is stunning. From what I can tell Tom Hanks’ performance as Mr Rogers captures the man incredibly well, but I’m certainly not an expert.
The film really has a positive outlook on life, and does a brilliant job tackling some heavy themes like anger, forgiveness, friendship, and parenthood in a lovely way. I don’t think the film will really go down as a classic, but its certainly an enjoyable experience.