Review: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

Director: Marielle Heller
Screenwriters: Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster
Starring: Matthew Rhys, Tom Hanks, Susan Kelechi-Watson, Chris Cooper, Maryann Plunkett
Genres: Drama, Biopic
MPAA Rating: Rated PG for strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language
Release Date: 11/22/19 (Wide Theatrical); Watch on Starz
Rotten Tomatoes Score: 96%

Fred Rogers is perhaps the most likable figure in recent history, renowned for his ability to speak to children and adults alike about difficult subjects; he was, truly, a real-life hero. Director Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) has brought us another based-on-a-true-story film, but what perhaps makes Heller’s Mr. Rogers movie so unique is that it isn’t wholly about Mr. Rogers himself; it’s more about the impact he had on so many people, including a disgruntled journalist played by Matthew Rhys (in an underrated performance).

It is nearly impossible not to cry and feel the need to be a better person by the time you have finished watching this movie. There is one particularly powerful scene in which Tom Hanks’ Mr. Rogers requests a moment of silence, perhaps my favorite scene in any movie released in 2019. Mr. Rogers is maybe Hanks’ most transformative role, at least in recent years, and if it doesn’t [finally] net him another long-overdue Oscar nomination I will be Hulk-like angry and surprised. (Thankfully, it did, becoming the movie’s sole Oscar nomination).

Heller uses some very interesting framing devices that help make this semi-biopic truly unique.

A-

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