Starring: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelechi Watson, Chris Cooper, Enrico Colantoni, Maryann Plunkett, Tammy Blanchard, Wendy Makkena, Sakina Jaffrey, Carmen Cusack, Noah Harpster, Maddie Corman
OUR RATING: ★★★☆☆
Bio-drama directed by Marielle Heller. Based on a true story in which an award-winning cynical journalist, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), begrudgingly accepts an assignment profiling the beloved television icon Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency, and finds his perspective on life transformed.REVIEWS
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Our Favorite Quotes:'It's strange, but sometimes it's hardest of all to forgive someone we love.' - Fred Rogers (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) Click To Tweet 'I don't think anybody can grow unless he really is accepted exactly as he is.' - Fred Rogers (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) Click To Tweet 'Just take a minute and think about all the people who loved us into being.' - Fred Rogers (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) Click To Tweet 'To die is to be human. And anything human is mentionable. Anything mentionable is manageable.' - Fred Rogers (A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood) Click To Tweet
[we see Fred doing his show on camera talking to the audience]
Fred Rogers: I’d like you to meet a new friend of mine. His name is Lloyd Vogel.
[he reveals a photo of Lloyd with his face beaten up]
Fred Rogers: Someone has hurt my friend Lloyd. And not just on his face. He is having a hard time forgiving the person who hurt him. Do you know what that means, to forgive? It’s a decision we make to release a person from the feelings of anger we have at them. It’s strange, but sometimes it’s hardest of all to forgive someone we love. Let’s say hello to my new friend, Lloyd. Shall we?
[Fred continues his story on Lloyd to the audience]
Fred Rogers: Have you ever felt the way Lloyd does? So angry you want to hurt someone? Or yourself? I know I have. When I was a boy, I was very chubby. And the other kids would chase me, and call me names, like Fat Freddy. It made me very sad. Sometimes, when I was by myself, I would cry. And other times, it made me very angry. There is always something you can do with the mad that you feel.
Lloyd Vogel: Why are you giving me an assignment?
Ellen: We’re doing an issue on heroes, and we’re profiling a number of inspirational people. We just need a small piece of copy to accompany a pretty photo.
Lloyd Vogel: You hired me as an investigative journalist. I don’t do puff pieces.
Ellen: Wait a second. Didn’t I hire you to do whatever I tell you to do? And right now that’s doing a profile on one of our nation’s heroes.
Lloyd Vogel: Who?
Ellen: Mister Rogers.
Lloyd Vogel: As in the hokey kids show guy?
Ellen: As in the beloved children’s television host, yes.
Ellen: He was the only person on our list willing to be interviewed by you, Lloyd. I guess you’re developing a reputation.
Lloyd Vogel: A reputation? People love talking to me.
Ellen: Yeah, they do. Until they read what you write about them.
Lloyd Vogel: So, what, I’m supposed to go easy on this guy because he plays with puppets for a living?
Ellen: Four hundred words. Play nice.
[as Fred calls Lloyd to arrange the interview]
Fred Rogers: On our program, I try to look through the camera into the eyes of a single child, and speak to him, or her, trying to be fully present to their feelings, and their needs.
Lloyd Vogel: Right.
Fred Rogers: Do you know what the most important thing in the world is to me right now?
Lloyd Vogel: Uh, no.
Fred Rogers: Talking on the telephone to Lloyd Vogel.
[referring to Lloyd’s assignment on Mr. Rogers]
Andrea Vogel: Oh, well, at least it’s someone good.
Lloyd Vogel: Yeah. We’ll see.
Andrea Vogel: Oh, God, Lloyd. Please, don’t ruin my childhood.
Lloyd Vogel: Hey, I’m looking for Fred Rogers.
Bill Isler: Who?
Lloyd Vogel: Am I in the wrong place?
Bill Isler: I know who you are. In here.
[they walk towards the studio]
Bill Isler: You’ll get about twenty minutes with him during the break.
Lloyd Vogel: I was told an hour.
[referring to the bruises on Lloyd’s face]
Bill Isler: You’re not going to try to fight him, are you?
Lloyd Vogel: Oh, uh, softball league. Play at the plate.
Bill Isler: Maybe you shouldn’t have led with your face.
[after Fred starts talking to Lloyd during their shoot]
First AD: Hold, please!
Marge: We can’t fire him, can we?
Fred Rogers: Hello, Lloyd. Oh, it’s nice to meet you. What…?
[referring to the bruises on Lloyd’s face]
Fred Rogers: Are you alright?
Lloyd Vogel: Play at the plate.
Fred Rogers: Oh, mercy, that looks like it hurts.
Lloyd Vogel: The tent. Why didn’t you let them set it up for you?
Fred Rogers: Well, children need to know that even when adults make plans, sometimes they don’t turn out the way we’d hoped.
Fred Rogers: How long have you been married, Lloyd?
Lloyd Vogel: Uh, eight years.
Fred Rogers: Oh, eight years. Oh, that’s a wonderful accomplishment. Does your spouse have a name?
Lloyd Vogel: Andrea.
Fred Rogers: I would like to meet Andrea someday.
Lloyd Vogel: And do you think living here makes it easier, or more difficult to be a celebrity?
Fred Rogers: Oh, celebrity. Mercy.
Lloyd Vogel: You don’t consider yourself famous?
Fred Rogers: Fame is a four-letter word. Like “tape” or “zoom”, or “face”. What ultimately matters is what we do with it.
Lloyd Vogel: And what are you doing with it?
Fred Rogers: We are trying to give children positive ways to deal with their feelings.
Lloyd Vogel: This piece will be for an issue about heroes. Do you consider yourself a hero?
Fred Rogers: I don’t think of myself as a hero. No, not at all.
Lloyd Vogel: What about Mister Rogers? Is he a hero?
Fred Rogers: I don’t understand the question.
Lloyd Vogel: Well, there’s you, Fred, and then there’s the character you play, Mister Rogers.
[as Lloyd is trying to interview Fred]
Fred Rogers: You said it was a play at the plate? Is that what happened to you? What did happen to you, Lloyd?
Lloyd Vogel: I got into a fight.
Fred Rogers: Oh. Oh, my. Who did you get into a fight with?
Lloyd Vogel: It’s not important.
Lloyd Vogel: Jerry.
Fred Rogers: And who is Jerry?
Lloyd Vogel: My father.
Fred Rogers: Oh, my.
Lloyd Vogel: I’d rather not talk about it.
Fred Rogers: Well, what were you and your father fighting about?
Lloyd Vogel: I’m here to interview you, Mr. Rogers.
Fred Rogers: Well, that is what we’re doing, isn’t it?
First AD: Daniel, are you set?
Fred Rogers: [as Daniel] I’m set!
First AD: Thank you, Daniel.
Lloyd Vogel: Did she just talk to the puppet?
Bill Isler: Daniel isn’t just a puppet. Daniel is Fred, and Fred is Daniel.
Lloyd Vogel: You mean…
Bill Isler: Please stop talking.
[referring to Fred]
Lloyd Vogel: I just don’t know if he’s for real.
Ellen: That’s not for you to say, Lloyd.
Lloyd Vogel: I think with a few more interviews…
Ellen: No, no, no, no, no! I told you, this isn’t an exposé, okay? Just please put pen to paper. A couple funny anecdotes. Keep it simple.
Lloyd Vogel: I can’t do that, Ellen. He’s a lot more complex than I thought.
Ellen: He’s a children’s entertainer. He’s Mister freaking Rogers. This isn’t Mikhail Gorbachev we’re talking about.
Lloyd Vogel: I don’t think you understand what you’re asking of me.
Ellen: I’m asking you to do your job. Now, get out of here, and come back to me when you have your first draft.
[referring to his interview with Fred]
Andrea Vogel: How did it go?
Lloyd Vogel: He’s just about the nicest person I’ve ever met.
Andrea Vogel: When you say it, it doesn’t sound like a compliment.
[Lloyd is watching an interview of Fred by Aresnio Hall on his show]
Arsenio Hall: There is an attitude out there, there’s some things going on. There’s a lot of hopelessness. What do we need to do?
Fred Rogers: There’s no simple answers, of course. But if we could, through television programs, as well as every other imaginable program, let people know that each one of us is precious.
Arsenio Hall: Yeah, it all starts in the home. We can never underrate how important that is.
[Lloyd is watching an old footage of Fred]
Fred Rogers: I don’t think anybody can grow unless he really is accepted exactly as he is.
[Lloyd watches Oprah interviewing Fred on her show]
Oprah: What do you think is the biggest mistakes parents make in raising their children?
Fred Rogers: Um, not to remember their own childhood.
Fred Rogers: I think that the best thing that we can do is to think about what it was like for us, and know what our children are going through.
Oprah: But, you know, it’s so hard once you get to be a parent. You always say, “I will never do this,” when your mother’s doing it to you, or father’s doing it to you. You say, “I will never do this to my child.” And then you get to our age, and you forget what it was like to be this size. You really do forget.
Fred Rogers: Well, but those children can help re-evoke what it was like. That’s why, when you’re a parent, you have a new chance to grow.
Oprah: I know that you are the father of two boys, but I can’t imagine you ever having a problem with your children. You ever have any?
Fred Rogers: Well, of course. I’m a human being just like everybody else.
Bill Isler: You’re here because Fred wants you here.
Lloyd Vogel: Honored.
Bill Isler: He likes everybody, but he loves people like you.
Lloyd Vogel: People like me?
Bill Isler: I’ve read your work. You don’t really care for humanity, do you?
Lloyd Vogel: I’m just doing my job.
Bill Isler: I insisted he read you before we agreed.
Lloyd Vogel: And did he?
Bill Isler: Every article we could find.
[referring to Fred]
Lloyd Vogel: So how does it feel to be married to a living saint?
Joanne Rogers: You know, I’m not fond of that term. If you think of him as a saint, then his way of being is unattainable. You know, he works at it all the time. It’s a practice. He’s not a perfect person. He has a temper. He chooses how he responds to that anger.
Lloyd Vogel: That must take a lot of effort.
Joanne Rogers: Well, yeah, he does things every day that help to ground him. Reads Scripture. Swims laps. Prays for people by name. Writes letters, hundreds of them. He’s been doing that since I met him.
Lloyd Vogel: So, you’ve covered some heavy stuff, uh, especially for a show aimed at children.
Fred Rogers: Oh, I’m glad you’ve had the chance to view the program.
Lloyd Vogel: Death, divorce, war. It gets dark.
Fred Rogers: You know, Maggie Stewart showed me the most beautiful word in sign language.
[he links his index fingers together]
Fred Rogers: You know what that means? It means friend. Isn’t that perfect?
[on the subway]
Mr. Rogers Fans: Hey, Mr. Rogers.
[they start singing]
Mr. Rogers Fans: It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood, a beautiful day for a neighbor.
[everyone on the subway cart starts joining in and singing the lines and clap when it’s finished]
Fred Rogers: Oh, that was wonderful.
Lloyd Vogel: It seems like all these people line up to tell you their problems.
Fred Rogers: Isn’t it wonderful? Such bravery?
Lloyd Vogel: Well, it seems like that would be an incredible burden on you.
Fred Rogers: Well, I’m grateful for you saying that, Lloyd. I’m grateful for your compassion.
Lloyd Vogel: Is it? A burden on you?
[Fred is silent as he contemplates the question]
Lloyd Vogel: Okay, let’s assume it’s a burden on you.
Fred Rogers: There’s no normal life that is free from pain.
Lloyd Vogel: How do you deal with it?
Fred Rogers: Oh, well, there are many ways you can deal with your feelings without hurting yourself, or anybody else.
Lloyd Vogel: Yeah, like what?
Fred Rogers: Well, you can pound a lump of clay, or swim as fast as you can swim, or play the lowest keys on a piano all at the same time.
[imitates hitting the piano keys]
Lloyd Vogel: Do you ever talk to anyone about the burden you carry?
[imitates hitting the piano keys again]
Fred Rogers: Bong!
Lloyd Vogel: I can’t imagine it was easy growing up with you as a father.
Fred Rogers: Until recently, my oldest never told people about me. He’s very private, and that’s okay. And my youngest son, he genuinely tested me. But, eventually, we found our way, and now I’m very proud of both of them. But you are right, Lloyd. It couldn’t have been easy on them. Thank you. Thank you for that perspective.
Lloyd Vogel: [annoyed] You’re welcome.
Fred Rogers: Is that not the answer you were hoping for?
Fred Rogers: [to Lloyd] Being a parent does not mean being a perfect parent.
Lloyd Vogel: You love people like me.
Fred Rogers: What are people like you? I’ve never met anyone like you in my entire life.
Lloyd Vogel: Broken people.
Fred Rogers: I don’t think you are broken. I know you are a man of conviction. A person who knows the difference between what is wrong and what is right. Try to remember that your relationship with your father also helped to shape those parts. He helped you become what you are.
Fred Rogers: Would you do something with me, Lloyd? It’s an exercise I like to do sometimes. We’ll just take a minute and think about all the people who loved us into being.
Lloyd Vogel: I can’t do that.
Fred Rogers: They will come to you. Just one minute of silence.
[as Fred and Lloyd sit silently, the whole restaurant suddenly becomes silent too]
Fred Rogers: Thank you for doing that with me. I feel so much better.
Lloyd Vogel: [to Andrea] Listen, I realize I need to deal with my feelings. When I’m scared, which I was in the hospital, and I have been for a long time, I get really angry. And I know it’s a way of saying, “I can’t deal with this. Get away from me.” But that’s not what I want. It’s actually the opposite of what I want. You and Gavin, you’re what I want.
[Lloyd visits his dying father, Jerry]
Jerry Vogel: I am sorry for leaving you and your sister. It was selfish. And it was cruel. Will you look at me?
[Lloyd looks at him]
Jerry Vogel: I am so sorry, son. It’s not fair, you know? I think I’m just now starting to figure out how to live my life. I always loved you.
Lloyd Vogel: I love you too, dad.
[as Fred visit a dying Jerry, who is surrounded by his family, including Lloyd]
Fred Rogers: You know, death is something many of us are uncomfortable speaking about. But to die is to be human. And anything human is mentionable. Anything mentionable is manageable. Anything mentionable is manageable.
[after Fred’s visit with Jerry]
Lloyd Vogel: Hey. What did you say to Jerry?
Fred Rogers: I asked him to pray for me. I figure anyone who is going through what he is going through must be awfully close to God.
[Fred ending his story on Lloyd to the audience]
Fred Rogers: I’m so glad I had a chance to tell you about my friend Lloyd and his family. I have a new picture of Lloyd with his family. Would you like to see it?
[he reveals a happy photo of Lloyd with Andrea, Gavin, his sister, her husband, and Jerry’s wife]
Fred Rogers: There they are. That’s a nice picture. It gives me a good feeling to see them all together like that. I hope you know that you made today a very special day by just your being you. There’s no one in the whole world like you, and I like you just the way you are.
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