A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Directed by

Tom Hanks
Matthew Rhys
Chris Cooper

Maybe it's because we need kindness right now.  Civility.  We long to be seen and to be treated gently.  That could be what draws us to our childhood friend, Mr. Rogers.

Still, an underlying fear that "A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" would be a sappy two hours in the dark, leaving viewers tacky with sweetness, might keep you from rushing to the theater.  It did this movie lover.  

And maybe that's why it proved better than expectations - expectations were not high.

But, oh, happy day!  This is a good story and a good movie!

We can always count on Tom Hanks.  From Forrest Gump to Sully, he delivers.  An in A Beautiful Day, he brings us a real, live, grown up Mr. Rogers.

We already knew, of course, that Mr. Rogers was a gentle, loving man who put the highest value on kids.  If we watched Morgan Neville's documentary, Won't You Be My Neighbor, last year, we have a fleshed out view of the talents and drive built in to our comfortable friend.

Now we learn that Mr. Rogers had an extraordinary gift for seeing into the hearts of those he encountered.  And we're told, he loved broken people the best.  And so, ta da! enter Lloyd Vogel, based on journalist Tom Junod, who interviewed Mr. Rogers for Esquire, ably played by Matthew Rhys.

Moviegoers respond to Rhys's character perhaps because we are also drawn to the broken.  We know that's where the crux of the story will be.  Maybe we even see ourselves in there a little bit.

In any case, Mr. Rogers sees into and through Vogel's skepticism and to the core of what's disrupting his emotional life - a throbbing, toxic history with his dad, played by  Chris Cooper.  Nobody plays unsavory better.

Yet...yet...OK, I won't spoil what you can probably see coming anyway, but just know that it's sweet and more layered that you might expect.  And, even if a bit pat, still leaves us satisfied and pleased with our own sense of wonder.

By the time Mr. Rogers returns to his bench to retire his slippers and don his outside shoes, we feel good and rightfully so.  There's a lot to be said for acceptance.  And kindness.

Go see it.  Pay it forward.

7.5 out of 10 Whiskers
Six Degrees

Chris Cooper in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Chris Cooper in Adaptation with Meryl Streep

Meryl Streep in The River Wild with Kevin Bacon


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