“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood”

LOUISA:  2 STARS


LOUISA SAYS:

It’s a dull day in the neighborhood, boys and girls.

What a letdown “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” based on the friendship between Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and jaded journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), turns out to be. This pointless mess rambles all over the place, is saccharine sweet, inordinately predictable, and is bursting with plenty of platitudes about acceptance and understanding that carry a stench of insincerity. The creepy performances, mediocre story, disinterested direction, and horrendous original score turn this into a flop almost as soon as the opening credits begin.

When Lloyd is assigned to write a profile of Mr. Rogers, he is schooled in life lesson of kindness, decency, and empathy from one of America’s most beloved icons. (In other words, a cynical reporter with extreme daddy issues finds Jesus in the form of a kid’s television host). Instead of diving into what makes Fred tick, we are treated to the dullest of the dull moments in Lloyd’s mundane existence.

Hanks is just okay as the soft-spoken Mr. Rogers, and his performance is nothing but an unsettling, serial killer-esque impersonation rather than anything I’d consider awards-worthy. Rhys has the talent to become a breakout star of the big screen, but here he’s so jaded that I just didn’t care.

Director Marielle Heller, coming down from her high last year (she directed one of my favorites of 2018, “Can You Ever Forgive Me?”) leans on the crutch of nostalgia to excess. It suggests that she has a disconnect with the material, and there are very few personal touches in her filmmaking here. I could not relate to this movie at all, and a story like this needs to be universal in order to succeed.

Those searching for a traditional biopic should prepare to be disappointed. Instead of focusing on the life of Mr. Rogers, the story fixates more on the home life of Vogel. It’s disjointed in the sense that what the movie presents versus what the audience would most like to see is so out of whack.

If you’re looking for a truly inspiring and in-depth look at the life of Mr. Rogers, check out the 2018 documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?”

 

 

17 comments

  1. That was my first impression about Tom Hanks when I first saw the trailer. I could barely make it though it. I don’t know how could possible sit through this movie. Serial killer-esque impersonation? I was thinking along with the lines of pedo-esque. Really creepy.

    Having said that I would recommend “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” as well.

    Like

  2. This phrase is particularly insightful:

    Marielle Heller, coming down from her high last year leans on the crutch of nostalgia to excess. It suggests that she has a disconnect with the material, and there are very few personal touches in her filmmaking here.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. It takes all kinds, so even this movie needs to have a cynical detractor or two exploiting the opportunity to gain attention from having an alternate point of view. We seem to have more than enough “alts” in the environment today, who haven’t quite accepted the reality that perfection is an enemy of goodness.

    Like

    1. Accusations of being contrary for attention always makes me scratch my head, because criticism is just that — a critical opinion. I do my best to write unbiased reviews, and if you take the time to read mine, perhaps you’ll understand what make the movie a failure for me. Thanks for taking the time to comment, but I don’t appreciate being accused of rating a film a particular way just to gain attention. I take more pride, honesty, and integrity in my work.

      Like

  4. Your review totally echoed my experience at this movie. A scary Mr Rogers combined with a weak plot does not make for an enjoyable movie . I do normally find Tom Hanks creepy, but in this role, he was.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. A person’s reaction to this movie has proven to be something of a litmus test. A test for what…I won’t mention. But for those who know, this review reads pretty much as expected. I’m sorry you were unable to enjoy it. It’s not really a biopic, and if you went into it expecting another version of the documentary you mentioned, you surely may be disappointed. The movie was intended to simply be an interesting story based on a true event, and in so doing also highlight the unique vision and life of an American icon.
    On this, I (and apparently about 90-95 % of those who have taken time to comment publicly) think it succeeded.

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s