Tom Hanks is at his best as Fred Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a touching movie based upon the true story of an Esquire reporter whose life was altered after interviewing Fred for an article.
Fred, the creator of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, was a prosperous TV star whose focus was the well-being of children and everyone, no matter what their life’s station. Though I’m certain a great deal of artistic license was employed in the development of the film script, the real life reporter’s comments in Maxwell King’s biography of Fred Rogers, The Good Neighbor echoes the spirit of the character in the movie who portrays him.
I was delighted to learn that “Old Rabbit” a toy of which the character shares memories, was a part of the real life reporter’s childhood. (In both reality and the fictional story, Fred prompted the journalist to recall a stuffed friend from childhood, a type of memory common to most of us.)
Interviews included in the special features section of the DVD detail the positive experiences of those involved in the making of the movie. Fred’s wife believes the real life Mister Rogers would have approved of this film in his honor.
Not many of us can remain authentic to our natural personas through all of our business dealings, but Fred managed to do so. This feel good film continues his mission. It inspires us to do our best, to make amends with others, to focus upon their feelings, figure out what makes them tick, help them if we can do so, something both Mister Rogers and the real life person who portrayed him consistently did.
This review is sounding more like my personal impression of Fred Rogers, but that’s what the movie intended, it seems. To trigger an appreciation of the spirit of this versatile, authentic gentleman, talented pianist, skilled swimmer, open-minded Presbyterian minister who respected all faiths, a humanitarian whose mission in life was to improve society by helping children identify their talents and deal with difficulties so they can grow into helpful, thoughtful citizens.
I didn’t watch the show when I was young, but this movie makes me realize I missed out on something special. I highly recommend a viewing to everyone in need of inspiration; a bright spot in these trying times.