Fred Rogers was apart of countless people’s childhood, thanks to his long-running kids show Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. While Rogers might have passed away in 2003, his legacy has continued. Last year the documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? made a big splash, and now he’s getting the biopic treatment with A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Directed by Marielle Heller, the new movie stars Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers, and it turns out the director purposefully left some of the two-time Oscar winner’s imperfections in the theatrical cut.
As the trailers have shown, Tom Hanks will play both the real and TV version of Fred Rogers, singing the song A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood was named after. I got the chance to speak with Marielle Heller about her Oscar-hopeful movie, where she explained why she kept some of Tom Hanks’ mistakes or imperfections in the movie. You can check out our conversation below. Additionally, CinemaBlend’s official review is here.
Well, that makes a great deal of sense. It looks like Marielle Heller wanted A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood to ring true to Fred Rogers’ character. And he was the one who originally encouraged his TV series to show that sometimes adults make mistakes. It was all about the message he was sending to the kids at home.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is framed as another episode of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, with Fred Rogers telling the movie audience all about Matthew Rhys’ character Lloyd Vogel, and the personal issues the journalist was dealing with. As such, Tom Hanks enters the iconic film set, and sings the show’s theme song. But it’s not a pitch perfect performance; his singing wasn’t corrected in post.
Additionally, Tom Hanks didn’t do Mister Rogers’ signature costume change flawlessly. While he managed to catch his loafers when changing into sneakers, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood included a cut where Hanks failed to zip up his signature red sweater on the first try. The song is real and imperfect, just as Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood had been during its decades on the air.
My conversation with Marielle Heller shows how methodically she approached A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. Based off the Esquire article “Can You Say… Hero?”, the new biopic is a refreshing mixture of realism and fantasy sequences. Having the movie framed an episode of the show is one example of the bold creative choices Heller made with the blockbuster, which seemingly paid off. After all, her biopic is currently sitting on a 97% on Rotten Tomatoes, with hype steadily building since Beautiful Day premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival.
Biopics have typically done very well come Awards Season, just look at how Bohemian Rhapsody dominated last year’s. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood looks like it’ll have a good chance at getting some big nominations, especially for Tom Hanks’ performance. Hanks has been nominated for a whopping five Oscar nominations, winning two for Philadelphia and Forrest Gump. Hanks is a picture perfect version of Fred Rogers, so we’ll see how stiff his competition is for the big awards this season.