It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

I just, like a few minutes ago, finished watching ‘It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,’ which was not really a biopic of Mr. Rogers, as it focused on just a couple of weeks out of his life, when he was being interviewed for an article in Esquire, on which the film is actually based. I guess you could call it a biopic, though, since his life was his show and his show was his life. (The urban legend that he had been a Navy Seal was shot down in one sentence near the end of the film)
The main thing I want to say is that it was a great film and everybody should watch it.
I feel compelled to add, however, that Mr. Rogers neighborhood was not part of my childhood. I’m from the Captain Kangaroo generation, and by the time Mr. Rogers came onto the scene, I was already at the beginning of my teen years. I’ve never actually seen a whole episode of the show straight through, although, of course, I am familiar with it, just by living in the world. When a show is as important as that one, there’s a sort of osmosis.
Tom Hanks is great as Mr. Rogers, of course, because Tom Hanks is always great. I’ve only ever seen him in one movie I didn’t like (Road to Perdition) because he tried to play a bad guy, and it just did not work. I’m not sure if that’s just because he’s typecast and you don’t expect him to ever play a bad guy, or if he’s just naturally such a nice person that he couldn’t play a bad guy if he tried, but I suspect it’s the latter. Which made him the perfect choice to play Mr. Rogers.
The story is about the rage-a-holic reporter with a messed up family life who is sent to interview him, and how the process winds up having a totally rehabilitative effect on the reporter, because Mr. Rogers can totally feel his pain. There are sad moments, there are beautiful moments. You’d think it would be difficult to make a compelling feature length film about somebody who’s just so damned nice all the time, but it worked. Two thumbs up.

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