A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD: Real Strength is About Helping Others

Ask someone in Australia who Mr Rogers is and most likely, you’ll get a shrug of the shoulders. However, Rogers is a USA national treasure. His messages of kindness and compassion are a ray of sunshine to children and adults alike. Rogers spoke to children with his show in a way that hadn’t been seen on television before. He had a measured, respectful way of addressing their concerns and anxieties. He didn’t shy away from the tough questions.

Rogers aired a special episode after the Kennedy assassination that explained death and what the word assassination meant. He explained divorce in a way that children could understand. He once put an egg timer onscreen so kids could understand how long a minute is. Rogers had a beautiful way of speaking with people that made them feel heard, understood, and loved. In these heartbreaking times of bushfires and droughts and tragedies, I’ll leave you with this quote from Mr Rogers:

“My mother would say to me, ‘Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.’ To this day, especially in times of disaster, I remember my mother’s words, and I am always comforted by realising that there are still so many helpers — so many caring people in this world.” – Fred Rogers

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD is rated PG and runs for 109mins. It’s in cinemas now from the excellent people at Sony Pictures. So please, won’t you be our neighbour? – Kernel Claire

Hello Neighbour! TOM HANKS as Mr Fred Rogers

BY BLAKE CURRALL

SYNOPSIS – HELLO NEIGHBOUR:

Based on a true story, A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD follows award winning Esquire magazine investigative journalist Lloyd Vogel (MATTHEW RHYS, THE REPORT, THE POST). With a reputation for uncovering dirt on his editorial subjects and ruffling a few too many feathers, cynical Lloyd is tasked with improving his image by writing a ‘puff piece’ about arguably the nicest man to have ever lived.

Welcome to Mr Rogers’ Neighbourhood

“ANYONE WHO DOES ANYTHING TO HELP A CHILD IN HIS LIFE IS A HERO.” – FRED ROGERS

With family issues at home and a run in with his estranged father, Jerry (CHRIS COOPER, AMERICAN BEAUTY, LITTLE WOMEN), Lloyd already has a chip on his shoulder about his upcoming interview. Upon meeting the famed Fred Rogers, Lloyd observes the master at work on his long running TV show. He investigates every aspect of the children’s entertainment program. Looking for any angle to spice up his story, Lloyd is instead met by a Mr Fred Rogers (TOM HANKS, CAST AWAY, FORREST GUMP) who is incredibly philosophical and kind. He’s a man who has a genuine love for every person he meets, regardless of their age.

Left: The real life Fred Rogers (and King Friday XIII). Right: HANKS’ remarkable portrayal of the real deal.

“LOVE AND SUCCESS, ALWAYS IN THAT ORDER. IT’S THAT SIMPLE AND THAT DIFFICULT.” – FRED ROGERS.

Through the course of their various interviews, Lloyd and Fred develop a friendship. Fred pushes Lloyd for details on his relationship with his estranged father, his wife and young child. Lloyd’s bitterness with life starts to strain that friendship. Mr Rogers soon shows Lloyd the benefits of being a better person and loving your neighbour. He shows Vogel that life isn’t so bad, regardless of how you may feel inside.

A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD is cleverly put together. It features short transition scenes set in the style of the old school children’s TV program. It gives the film an almost fairy tale look. The internal struggles that Lloyd is having with his life slowly show dissolve to adopt Mr Rogers’ outlook on life.

TOM HANKS as Mr Fred Rogers with Daniel The Tiger

THE CAST AND CREW:

HANKS completely disappears into the role of Fred Rogers. He brings the kind, gentle old soul to life – sporting his trademark bow ties and cardigans along the way. Admittedly though, it’s easy to imagine HANKS doesn’t have to do much for the role. He seems to be the kind of person that personifies Rogers’ outlook on life.

RHYS, as Lloyd Vogel, gives a heartfelt performance. He’s struggling with his life, his family and the way he views the world. Before and after his encounters in Mr Rogers’ neighbourhood, Vogel views life through a cynical lens.

COOPER, as usual, gives a great performance as Lloyd’s estranged father. It brings A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD its strongest arc. His journey from deadbeat, alcoholic father to vulnerable, broken man is visceral. His interactions with his son and Mr Rogers give the film a lot of heart.

MARIELLE HELLER, director of the Oscar nominated CAN YOU EVER FORGIVE ME last year, is behind the lens. She delivers a sweet, heartfelt film that genuinely makes you feel good about the world and people in it. One scene in particular, with Lloyd and Fred on the subway perfectly shows the love people have for this man.

MATTHEW RHYS as Lloyd Vogel Surveys Mr Rogers’ Neighbourhood

WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOUR?:

It takes a lot for a film to warm the cold heart of this reviewer – but A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBOURHOOD does just that. This film makes you realise how cynical we have become. We’re waiting for something bad to happen or some dirt to be dug up on this living legend. But then you slowly realise that, yes, he is just a really nice guy that cares about people. This is a truly enjoyable drama that doesn’t veer too far into the saccharine side of things. It will make you feel good about yourself and the world after watching it.

KERNEL BLAKE’S POP SCORE:

KERNEL ELIE’S POP SCORE:

KERNEL CLAIRE’S POP SCORE:

YOUR CRITIC:

Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life. Like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. He can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** Images used are courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor or publisher. Credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.