Monday, November 25, 2019

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (The Movie)

Last year in the documentary Won't You Be My Neighbor?, filmmaker Morgan Neville detailed the life and legacy of the famous Fred Rogers, the Presbyterian Minister who became the much beloved host of a popular children's TV show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood.  Now actors Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers and Matthew Rhys (famously a Soviet spy in FX's The Americans) as journalist Lloyd Vogel (based on real-life writer Tom Junod) have teamed up to reveal more about the famous Mister Rogers - both the man and his impact - in Marielle Heller's film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. As Joe Morgenstern summed it up in his review for The Wall Street Journal, "This movie bets on goodness and wins."

Christmas is, of course, the season for stereotypically frivolous and eminently forgettable feel-good movies. It is a blessing to do better than that this year with this wonderful evocation of how an emotionally "broken" journalist is freed from the corrosive power of anger and resentment and reunited with his family as a consequence of his unexpected experience of interviewing Mister Rogers. Justifiably angry at his long-absent father, who had abandoned him (along with his sister and their dying mother), Lloyd learns empathy and forgiveness from Rogers, with all sorts of spillover effects.

I was born too early to grow up watching Mister Rogers on TV. But, like Lloyd in the movie, anyone of any age can experience the power of that better way of being, based in the overwhelming power of forgiveness, which Fred Rogers embodied and so amazingly shared with generations of children.

Betting on goodness is definitely the better bet to make!

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