With all the craziness in our country right now with the Coronavirus, it’s good to reach back into the past for something solid and peaceful. For instance, there was a time when a man in a red sweater reached out to the children around the world and helped them deal with troubling emotions. His primary tool was to provide comfort and we could all use that these days.
This solace can be found in A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.
The movie opens up with beloved actor, Tom Hanks, with an Oscar-nominated portrayal of Fred “Mr.” Rogers. Hanks goes through the familiar, televised routine of transition kids grew up watching on PBS for more than three decades — taking off a polyester suit jacket and putting on a cozy, zip-down sweater. And, of course, that famous juggling of shiny dress shoes to comfy sneakers.
It was a ritual Rogers did to set viewers at ease every day, and Hanks reflected his emotions and physicality perfectly in this process and throughout the entire film.
The scene continues to introduce the focal character of Mr. Rogers’ new friend, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys). From here, like most of Mr. Rogers’ shows, the movie morphs into a life-lesson, only this one is for adults.
Art Imitates Life
The movie teaches us how to deal with emotions like anger and even loss constructively. It also brings to light the comfort we can gain from one another when someone takes a special interest in our own well-being, like Mr. Rogers does for Lloyd.
Mr. Rogers personally helps Lloyd navigate through his own issues and problems by redirecting Lloyd’s questions. At first, Lloyd resists Mr. Rogers because he’s not used to such attention and understanding about him from a perfect stranger. Lloyd waits for Mr. Rogers to drop his presumed facade, and much to his surprise, that never happens.
Mr. Rogers is genuine.
The underlying themes, the personal stories brought to life, the transitional miniatures, as well as the cinematography make A Beautiful Day In the Neighborhood a walk down memory lane and a visual delight.
You can get distracted easily from the chaos of public health by taking a moment for some calming, mental health and enjoy the small visual details of the true-to-life world of Fred Rogers.
The way a soft blue light illuminates Lloyd’s face as he stares at Mr. Rogers in confusion while Rogers puppeteers Daniel Tiger. The simple detailed miniatures of Pittsburgh and New York in the changing scenes bring to mind childhood delights of visiting a train set display and disappearing into a new kingdom.
Much like life, not all scenes are soothing. There’s a fight at a wedding, an argument in a home, and a psychedelic dreamscape of confusion. Yet, the presence of Mr. Rogers remains a calming stable influence through out the film.
So, if you’re looking for comfort and need to rest in a more simple time when a man in a red zip-down sweater and a kind smile lit up your television screen, I suggest settling down with your favorite blanket and watch A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood.