Barrett Brief Movie Review- A Very Normal Day In The Neighborhood

Written by on 11/21/2019

A Very Normal Day In The Neighborhood

Summary: A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

Genre: Biography, Drama 

Nostalgia is a hell of a drug. And the film A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood leans right into it from the word go. To say nothing of the legendary status that Fred Rogers attained to generations of children, then adults, it only makes sense that a film would eventually be made about him. However, let me tell you right off the bat, this film isn’t about Mr. Rogers. In fact, there were times when I was annoyed that we had to leave the portray done by Tom Hanks so we could get back to the less interesting protagonist of the film, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys). Despite a very solid performance in the red sweater, Hanks is wasted on an average story that fails to connect. 

A Daunting Task

Mr. Rogers. The mere mention of his name almost demands reverence in Merican culture. Together with our own personal collection of memories of certain character, songs and other parts of the 31 years the show ran can be quite intimidating. I honestly couldn’t tell you who else I would have picked to do it. Tom Hanks brings his folkys charms to the role, but you can tell it takes him a while to settle in. During the first 15 minutes or so I wasn’t on board. Nevertheless, Hanks does seem to become more comfortable with the role and ends up doing a justice to person he was playing. His mannerisms, his cadence and overall demeanor shows the effort put forth. In a film that tends to treat Mr. Rogers as a combination of a zen master and Jim Anderson from Father Knows Best. Despite everything going on around him, Hanks does an admirable job keeping the character grounded. 

A Public Television Plot

The A plot of this film is really where the letdown happens. By the same token, a film called Lloyd Vogel Has Daddy Issues wouldn’t exactly put butts in the seats. Along with the way he is portrayed by Matthew Rhys is almost insufferable. I do understand he is in the worst spot, being the jerk to Hank’s Rogers. Be that as it may, he goes almost to far at some points. About halfway through the film I didn’t want to spend time with him anymore, I wanted more scenes with Hanks, which is never a good sign. The rest of the cast, including Chris Cooper (Jerry Vogel), Susan Kelechi Watson (Andrea Vogel), Enrico Colantoni (Bill Isler) and the rest do very well with what they have, but our story is so cookie-cutter. It feels like it could have gone through another draft or two. Finally, the set design was fantastic, with some transition scenes mimicking the classic sets of the show. Although they were used inconsistently and was also missed opportunity.  


It is almost a reversal of last week. In Ford V Ferrari the everything was firing on all cyclnders with the exception of the lead. This week, A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood struggles to keep up with Hanks performance, leading to a very average film. Of course, Mr. Rogers himself would be fine with it, telling the performers “I Like You As You Are”.

Score: 3 out of 5 Briefcases’s 

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