Amid the flurry of movie trailers released during ComicCon (the unofficial kick-off of the next year or so in popular culture) came quietly the trailer for Marielle Heller’s “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.”
A few quick thoughts:
1. Heller is a terrific filmmaker. Her features “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” (which is fantastic but bombed commercially so nobody remembers it) and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (which was a comparative hit and resulted in Oscar nominations for actors Melissa McCarthy and Richard E. Grant along with writers Nicole Holofcener and Jeff Whitty). I trust her sensibilities.
2. Tom Hanks is one of the most famous actors who ever lived. Seeing him play someone equally legendary in his field is... well, let's just say the valley is both uncanny and somehow not wide enough. Fred Rogers was as iconic a person, as iconic a look, as Muhammad Ali or JFK. It's a tough thing to nail.
3. Rogers’ singularly gentle diction was almost impossible to replicate without falling into parody. Hanks is doing his level best.
4. This is a movie not just about Fred Rogers, but is based the relationship between him and journalist Tom Junod (played here by Matthew Rhys and called Lloyd Vogel in the movie).
5. I cannot recommend enough the 2018 Fred Rogers documentary “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” which makes a pretty good argument for Fred Rogers as one of the most important 20th century Americans.
Related: The best movies of 2018