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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

All images from A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (Marielle Heller, 2019)

Director Marielle Heller told the Los Angeles Times that when she pitched Tom Hanks to play children’s TV pioneer Fred Rogers, “I described how I saw the movie—that I didn’t want it to be a biopic…. It was really a character piece about manhood and what it is to be a good person.” The problem with the movie is that it’s neither. It treats the collision of cynical New York-based slick-magazine writer Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) and idealistic Rogers (Tom Hanks) as a conversion experience. Assigned to profile Rogers for a “heroes” issue of Esquire in 1998, Vogel shows up on the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood set in Pittsburgh with his own parricidal version of the Mark of Cain: a scabbed nose, the result of a fistfight with his father, Jerry (Chris Cooper). Rogers doesn’t need a physical sign to sense a soul in…

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