Is it wrong to want more of something a film teases you with?
The following is a deeper film discussion and critique of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. If you haven’t seen the film yet, you’ll want to do that first because there are major spoilers discussed in this post.
… You’ve been warned …
I realize this is a selfish request, but when you see someone so great on the film, an actor or actress that really shines, my reaction is: I want more! The flaw for me in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was the primary narrative wasn’t on Mister Rogers, it was on a neighbor.
Yes, this is how Fred Rogers would have wanted it. This is how the guy was in real life on and off camera, it didn’t matter. He was all about other people. A film about him that focused primarily on him is sacrilege.
But. So what. I wanted more Mister Rogers. What made him tick? Really made him tick? So, he handled his “anger” by using puppets or beating the lowest keys on the piano, but in the movie we never see Mister Rogers get mad. We must assume he does that off screen. The reverence for Mister Rogers is clear, nobody wanted to insult or disparage the man by showing him as anything other than a saint.
Just seemed a bit too placating for my taste.
Reviews by Others
Let’s see, so far, what other moviegoers think of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Keep in mind that some/many of these reviews contain spoilers.
Did I miss your review? Use the comments to tell me about your movie-related/review blog and I’ll follow. I like following movie-related blogs. Yes, even those who disagree with my reviews and vice versa.
- Reel Heroes: “…is one of the best films of 2019 and deserves Oscar buzz for Best Picture and Best Actor. It seems like Tom Hanks has been snubbed by the Academy in recent years, and I’m hoping he gets his due with this performance.”
- Society Reviews (4/5): “The thing that made Rogers such a likable character was his faith and morality. Now the film doesn’t get too deep into Rogers’s ideology but does a great job of showing how he used his television show to teach valuable life lessons to kids.”
- Mark Tan / Full Circle Cinema: “…features a screenplay that is one draft from completion, and it has an imperfect way of covering up its flaws. Yet when it gets to the scenes of major catharsis, it cannot help but feel earned. And if Heller has not mastered crafting the big picture, at least she has mastered the details of intimate interactions.”
- Greg Carlson: “Some tear-jerking, nearly obligatory Nick Drake and Cat Stevens, going to town like a waterworks insurance policy, also makes the soundtrack. Cameo appearances by several Rogers family members, friends and collaborators will be spotted by sharp-eyed fans. Whimsical miniatures and shifting aspect ratios further evoke the oddity of the earnest Rogers and his limitless interest in the well-being of others.”
- Bill Pence: “…a well-acted film inspired by a true story that has several positive messages, but it is also moves slowly, and is more melancholy than expected.”
- Bookshelf Battle: “Perhaps the best tribute to Mr. R is to give us an example of how he turned a man’s life around with kindness. However, there are times where I would have liked to have seen more Fred and less Lloyd.”
- Chicken of Tomorrow: “…delivers all the warm, fuzzy feels of the best holiday films, but it also urges the viewer to take those good vibes a step further.”
- jasonbleau / Cinema Spotlight: “We rarely get movies like this anymore. “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” is one of the year’s best dramas and a very important movie that takes an iconic figure of positivity and reminds us what made this man so special as well as what makes us all special and human.”
- Chris Versus Hollywood: ” Fred illumined the world and changed millions of lives, And Hanks ably channels his graces, But it’s like watching Gandhi attempt to obtain Independence for make-believe places. “
- Stan The Movie Man: “…the movie is far from straightforward in the way it tells the story, how it frames the events and what the movie is really about. There are few films that can be both simple and complex, and “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” manages to pull off that trick.”
- Mike Glyer / File770: “…a tender, sweet parable about fathers and sons, and about the absolute power of goodness. Heller’s direction of the film plays with children’s perceptions of love and strength, while softly interweaving them with the sadness, distrust, and cynicism which often, sadly, replace the innocence of youth with the jaded wisdom of maturity.”
- Jeff Huston: “Even with the script’s occasional bromides, Heller’s film never feels corny. That’s no small achievement, especially since Heller doesn’t use a gritty edge to avoid schmaltz.”
- Raiders of the Lost Flicks: “The problem? Mr. Rogers is a tertiary character in what should have been a story about himself. When he was there, all I could see was Tom Hanks saying things Mr. Rogers would have said, the rest of the time we’re with the reporter, Lloyd, going through his issues with his past.”
- Inspired Bald Girl: “I generally have the patience to wait for the DVD at the public library. But, once in a while, there is a movie I absolutely cannot wait for, and this film about Mr. Rogers was one. I was a little skeptical about Tom Hanks as Mr. Rogers (or really anyone for that matter) but Hanks did a great job.”
- Brett Garten (8.2/10): “The power of imagery and the subtle act of hitting all of the lowest keys on a piano will leave you truly moved. The subtlety and comfort in silence is what really struck me about this film.”
- Tyler Howat: “This film accomplishes something sorely lacking in today’s Vogel-like jaded world: it reminds us of a healthy way to express ourselves, to deal with our problems, to relate to one another as real human beings with feelings.”
- Movieman32: “I can’t imagine any other living actor playing the beloved Fred Rogers a.k.a. Mister Rogers. Hanks nailed the role of Mister Rogers”
- Zach’s Zany Movie Reviews: “If Tom Hanks doesn’t at least get nominated for supporting actor for his portrayal of Fred Rogers in A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD this year, I would definitely say the Academy doesn’t really care about him anymore.”
Not Recommended (or unclear/undecided)
- Rated Fritz: “It’s admirable that A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood wants to satisfy this need. But it’s Fred Rogers, and our collective memory of and nostalgia for Mister Rogers Neighborhood, doing the work, not this narrative and not the actor doing the impersonation. If it’s Mister Rogers you miss and need, stream Won’t You Be My Neighbor?, or spend some time on YouTube watching his interviews. It’s as close as you’ll get to his light.”
- Matthew Liedke: “Much of the movie felt unconvincing because it turns out that this really was inauthentic. It’s really a shame, too, because the movie could have been a lot more simplified and in turn, more heartfelt and relatable.”
- marruda3: “…is a curious movie, and as much I like Mister Rogers, and the performances in this film, I’m not sure it entirely worked for me.”
- Christopher’s Space: “The movie is about the wrong person, as far as we’re concerned, and on top of that, a story about a writer is not cinematic. Movie fans like Tom Hanks, but there’s not a pressing need to see this movie when you can see the real Mister Rogers in reruns and in last year’s documentary, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?””
Your turn. Let’s discuss A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Do you agree/disagree with my criticism? What did you like and dislike, if anything, about the film?