Who doesn’t remember good ole Mr. Rogers from back in the day right? The show was always fun and while I don’t think I saw a ton of episodes, it was certainly around. Having a film based on both the show and Rogers himself was a fun idea. The movie can certainly get dramatic and all but it seems to have been a rather accurate/realistic portrayal here so I imagine everyone would be satisfied at this point. Since the film is based on a real story there won’t be a review or score but I will still have my thoughts below.
The main character here is a guy named Lloyd. He has been dealing with issues with his father. Lloyd blames him for their mother’s notably unpeaceful death. The guy was cheating a lot back then and now Lloyd finds it hard to forgive him even if the guy seems to have changed. Mr. Rogers wants to help Lloyd let go of this grudge in the show and eventually meets him in the real world. Lloyd is a reporter and his boss wants him to write about Mr. Rogers. Lloyd looks forward to finding faults with Rogers but is unable to find any. Could it be possible that Mr. Rogers is just a nice person? Lloyd has never thought that this could even be possible.
The writing is solid and so even if you know more or less exactly how this will play out, the adventure is good. I would say the film’s only weakness is that it can go a little too far in being dramatic at times. For example, it takes Rogers an eternity to finish his sentences at times because he’ll take very long breaks to look at the camera. We have moments of silence that go on for a while and in general the film’s pacing is like that of a glacier. This is a movie that will absolutely feel long as every scene is stretched for maximum effect. I think it can be a bit much at times but I understand why the effect is used. That’s just how this is supposed to be played out.
As for Lloyd, well he’s definitely not a nice character for most of the film. He holds onto his grudges and just does not move forward. Ultimately he does manage to learn his lesson though and we see how Mr. Rogers has changed him. Rogers does a tremendous job of being a good role model at all times. He is very conscious of how much kids look up to him and doesn’t make many mistakes. He’s not perfect of course and he knows this but he goes out of his way to make sure that people see the good side of him. He even leaves mistakes in the episodes after editing so that kids can see that sometimes things don’t work out. It’s a good lesson to be learned and also shows that he was really good at being an editor. He knew what scenes to keep and what scenes to cut.
It’s very unlikely that you will walk away from the film not liking Mr. Rogers. He’s just a very good guy and I would have liked seeing him as the main character of the adventure even over Lloyd. I suppose Lloyd gives us the more dramatic parts of the story but you could absolutely do a lot with more Rogers scenes. Seeing him take the train or eat out at a restaurant are fun because you get to see him outside of the routine. At the same time, he always has to be with Lloyd in these moments since that guy’s the main character and it seems like he holds Rogers back there. I know the point is that Lloyd’s not a great guy but so until he changes, his scenes can be more on the brutal side.
More scenes showing Rogers hanging out with the kids and being patient with everyone would be enjoyable. We see that he drives his producers crazy since he has a hard time sticking to the script but it also shows that he is very serious about his show and persona. He never breaks character and is always helping out. More scenes could show him at various news shows and programs where he could talk to people directly.
I did enjoy the dream Lloyd has where he joins the show though and that was a moment where the movie used his character really well. It was fun seeing him shrink and have to accept his new situation. it was certainly very trippy but it worked out well. It’s also cool to see the old sets and the music since it’s exactly how I remembered it. It’s been many years since I’ve heard the theme song but there are just some tunes that you never forget. The intro song to Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood is definitely one such example. It could probably be another 30 years before I hear it again and I would still recognize it.
Overall, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood does a great job of really capturing the spirit of the show while also having a story where you get to see how Rogers’ changes someone’s life personally. I do think that the adventure would be even better without Lloyd but having him around was a good way to see how Rogers would deal with this situation. It was important to see him take on Lloyd’s bad attitude with a good attitude of his own. Nobody could really knock Mr. Rogers off of his game. He was really committed to helping out everyone as best he could and ultimately he succeeded. If you’re feeling nostalgic about the series or just want an emotional story then this is certainly a good pick.