Tom Hanks Mr. Rogers Movie title

Let’s get one thing straight: the Tom Hanks Mr. Rogers movie, where Hanks plays the beloved television host, will always be called “The Tom Hanks Mr. Rogers Movie” in people’s minds. You know, I know it. That said, the movie does now have a real title: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Learn more about A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood below, neighbor.

As the recent documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor confirmed, Fred Rogers was one-of-a-kind, and it’s doubtful we’ll see anyone like him again. But Tom Hanks is going to do his best by playing the late icon in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Hanks certainly projects enough warmth and politeness to fit the role, and the first image released has him looking the part. We’ll just have to see him in action.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (which was previously going by the title You Are My Friend) isn’t a straight biopic of Rogers. Instead, it’s based on the true story of journalist Tom Junod interviewing Rogers for an Esquire profile (you can read the profile, titled Can You Say…Hero?, here). This approach – bringing an outsider into a famous person’s world – has been employed by Hollywood many times, and there’s nothing wrong with that. That said, the film’s official synopsis gives me pause:

Two-time Oscar®-winner Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew 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 world could certainly use some kindness triumphing over cynicism right about now, but making this the story of saintly Mr. Rogers melting the heart of a cold journalist seems like the wrong approach here, especially since none of that skepticism comes through in Junod’s profile. But it’s still too early to tell – perhaps it’ll all work out well. At the very least, I’m very curious to see how Hanks plays such an iconic figure beloved by many. He has some history in that department, having already played Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks. Who knows what adored person Hanks will play next? Maybe someone can make a Tom Hanks biopic some day.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood opens October 18, 2019.

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