It would be very easy to say that A Beautiful Day In The Neighborhood is the perfect way to celebrate July 4th. Nothing could be more quintessentially American than homespun Fred Rogers giving us his love and understanding while surrounded by quaint Americana.
However the qualities that made Mr Rogers such a treasured part of an American child’s upbringing seem to be in short supply today - gentleness, patience, wisdom and compassion. Perhaps July 4th is the right time for everyone to get a reminder of what made him a truly inspirational figure and loved by so many.
This movie probably doesn’t tell us much we didn’t know about him - everyone who had contact with Fred Rogers said that what we all saw was what you get. He truly was like that in real life. But the vehicle for demonstrating how his philosophy worked so well for the entire human race - his relationship with the cynical and very broken reporter sent to interview him - is well chosen, and while Tom Hanks, our very own National Treasure™ is sublimely comfortable in his common everyman role, watch out for Matthew Rhys who is excellent as the emotionally empty reporter desperately in need of repair.
I did not grow up with Mr Rogers in my life, and I wonder if I would have been receptive to his message, or just a bored, cynical brat. I do know that when I watched this movie the first time, it moved me more than I can say, probably since his example is more valuable to us as adults today than it was to the kids.