‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Part 1: A Much Needed Nostalgia Trip into a hurting, but hopeful world.

This is part one of a two part blog series, the first installment will act as a movie review while the second one will dive into the story behind the movie. Please enjoy!

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,‘ is a beautifully done movie, directed by Marielle Heller, that dives deep into the friendship between Lloyd Vogel (inspired by the real-life journalist Tom Junod) and the children’s TV show host Fred Rogers. The movie is ‘inspired by’ a real life story and features an invaluable lesson that we all need to hear. Minor spoilers ahead!!!

As someone who grew up watching Mr. Rogers, I was hopeful that this was going to be a good movie. As a kid, I remember sitting on my Grandparents’ couch being excited to watch ‘Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood’. Mr. Rogers was an important part of my childhood. I’ve never forgotten the tune of the opening theme song or the sound of the red trolley.

Let me make this clear, ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,’ while being a Biographical movie, does not feel like one at all. From the very beginning it transports you back into your childhood, as if, as an adult, you were sitting on your couch once again and watching another episode from your childhood hero.

The movie begins with the classic Mr. Rogers music playing in the background. A model city is there as well, much like the one seen at the beginning of every episode of the original show. You might think that’s just a creative flare, but then you realize you were wrong. Mr. Rogers (played by Tom Hanks) walks through the front door, says hello and proceeds to show you pictures of some of his friends. This is the moment that I realized that this wasn’t just going to be an inspirational movie to watch, rather ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ seeks to teach the viewer a valuable (yet entertaining) message that we all need to hear. That was also the moment I realized that the main character was not Mr. Rogers at all!

We are first introduced to the main character when Mr. Rogers shows us one of his pictures. He explains that he is a friend who has been hurt by someone and is having a hard time forgiving them. This man, we learn is Lloyd Vogel (played by Matthew Rhys), who is unable to forgive his father Jerry Vogel (played by Chris Cooper) over some past emotional wounds. After an intense fight between the two, Lloyd, a very outspoken journalist is assigned to interviewing Mr. Rogers. Over the course of the movie, Lloyd, with the help of Mr. Rogers must learn to love and forgive his father despite his flaws, and to recognize the good inside of him.

The message is simply this: Learn to forgive others who hurt you because they too are your neighbors. As a Christian that’s a message I can wholeheartedly get behind. A major part of the movie revolved around Mr. Rogers’ and Lloyd’s conversations about their family and how they dealt with anger. At one point Mrs. Rogers (played by Maryann Plunkett) mentions a variety of ways that Mr. Rogers deals with his emotions. He is not a perfect person, and neither is Lloyd (or us), he has issues as well as we do. Even Mr. Rogers deals with anger. Adults, just like kids, need to learn to control their emotions. As Jerry Bridges says in his book Respectable Sins, “We frequently see [anger] in children, but it is just as true of us who are adults” (p. 119). Dealing with our anger and other rogue feelings in healthy ways is just as important for adults as it is for children. Two of the ways that Mr. Rogers dealt with these feelings were through reading his Bible and prayer.

Learn to forgive others who hurt you because they too are your neighbors. As a Christian that’s a message I can wholeheartedly get behind.

I mention Bible reading and prayer specifically because it delves a little deeper into a part of Mr. Rogers that many people do not know about. Fred Rogers was an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church, and he considered his television program as a means of ministry to children. His faith was an integral part of his life.

While I do wish this film delved a bit deeper into his faith, I am thankful that it was mentioned at least a few times throughout the movie. His message, nevertheless, was made very clear throughout the movie. At this point I must applaud both the director and Tom Hanks who not only made the character Lloyd seem valuable, but also the audience. Whether it be the introduction to the movie or an awkward, but meaningful look towards the audience, Tom Hanks brought a genuine care to his portrayal of Fred Rogers that is sure to leave an impact on the audience.

Here is why I love this movie. It’s not just historical or entertaining, but its seeks to challenge the viewers to bring kindness into this dark world. We live in a hurting world, there are people who has hurt us in the past and likely will hurt us in the future, but ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood‘ teaches us to be counter cultural. It teaches us to love our neighbors regardless of what they have done to you. To see the God-given potential inside of them. To be lights in this dark world. I left the theater thinking about my own life. Have I been caring for others like Mr. Rogers? Am I willing to forgive those who hurt or may hurt me?

A good story will make you ask good questions. ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood‘ did just that. For that reason, high-quality acting, and a captivating story of forgiveness, I can’t recommend this movie enough! If you are looking for a wholesome movie to inspire you to love others, or if you just grew up watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood and are intrigued, head over to your local theater an check this one out!

That is all for my movie review. Stay tunned for part 2, when I take a look at the article that inspired the movie!

Have you seen ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood?‘ What are your thought? Are you planning on seeing it?

1 thought on “‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ Part 1: A Much Needed Nostalgia Trip into a hurting, but hopeful world.

  1. Pingback: Mr. Rogers’s Friend: How Creative License Creates an Authentic Message. (Part 2)

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