Film Review: 'A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood'

The powerful 2018 documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? wet the appetite for audiences to get another visit to the iconic neighborhood of Fred Rogers. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood attempts to deliver that, with Tom Hanks portraying Rogers in a supporting role. The filmmakers made the conscious decision to construct a fictional narrative of family strife between a father (Chris Cooper) and his son, Lloyd (Matthew Rhys), a magazine writer. Fred Rogers begins as an assignment for Lloyd and becomes the change agent, pushing Lloyd, in the gentlest and most empathetic manner, to reflect on his anger over his father’s abandonment and to work through his feelings and potentially forgive the old man. Like the PBS star, the movie is sweet and optimistic. Hanks soars in this Oscar winning performance, but the film loses its magic when he’s not on screen imparting his wisdom through constant smiles.

The majority of the movie is a father/son story that is well acted, but doesn’t meeting the quality of the Hanks / Rhys scenes. There’s also some attempted comic relief from Rhys sister and her husband that seems like it was inserted from another movie. It’s an enjoyable experience with Hanks elevating the material and offering audiences a walk down memory lane.