beautiful day in the neighborhood featurette

In these trying times, we could all use a little more Mr. Rogers in our lives. Unfortunately, the beloved children’s television host has long since passed away. But director Marielle Heller and actor Tom Hanks are trying to give us the next best thing: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a film that celebrates how gosh-darn nice Fred Rogers was. The Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood featurette below has Hanks, Heller, and co-star Matthew Rhys discussing what made Roger so special.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Featurette

I saw A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood at TIFF this year, and while the film itself is a little wobbly, Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Mr. Rogers is pitch-perfect. Hanks doesn’t exactly look like Rogers, and he doesn’t have the same exact soft-spoken voice as the man did, but he manages to embody the benevolent figure anyway, resulting in a wonderful performance – the type of performance that gets awards season attention.

This featurette has Hanks, Matthew Rhys, and director Marielle Heller discussing just who Mr. Rogers was – in case you somehow didn’t know. The most telling part of the featurette comes near the end, where Heller says: “There’s something about his message now that feels more important than ever.” The implication is clear: life is a nightmare now, and we could all use some kindness to keep us going.

In A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, “a jaded magazine writer (Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor.” The film is based on an article by journalist Tom Junod, who profiled Rogers for Esquire. And while Junod’s article does have personal anecdotes, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood makes its Junod-inspired journalist the movie’s main character. Rhys gives a good performance, but his character and his character’s troubles are never that interesting. Thankfully, the movie comes to life whenever Hanks’ Mr. Rogers shows up.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens November 22.

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