It’s pretty easy to be cynical about the idea of a known Hollywood star stepping into the shoes of Fred Rogers to portray the legendary children’s TV host in a Hollywood movie, but when the star in question is Tom Hanks, we’re all likely to be a little bit less suspicious about the suggestion. Indeed, the question seems to be something along the lines of “Who else could possibly have hoped to portray Mr. Rogers?” In a sea of male Hollywood stars troubled by one allegation after another, Hanks is one of the few A-listers whose reputation as a nice guy could possibly stand up to the task of portraying legendary nice guy Fred Rogers.
Today’s first trailer for upcoming film A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is structured rather similarly to the 2015 film on David Foster Wallace, The End of the Tour, although presumably with very different content. Still, both films tackled their famous subjects through the lens of a viewpoint character who is a magazine journalist—one who is assigned to write a story about the subject, and then becomes particularly close to that subject. In this case, our synopsis is as follows:
An award-winning cynical journalist, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), begrudgingly accepts an assignment to write a profile piece on the beloved television icon Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) with Vogel’s perspective on life transformed after his encounter with Rogers.
It all sounds like the light-hearted, feel-good dramedy you’d probably expect, bereft of much in the way of “stakes.” It’s not like Mr. Rogers is going to have to convince this reporter not to write a character assassination of him in the pages of Esquire. Instead, the film looks like a simple paean to the well-liked nature of Mr. Rogers, and the generations of kids his show affected in a positive way. A little simplistic, perhaps? But probably a tear-jerker as well. The ending sequence with an entire train car singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” to the man certainly tugs at the heartstrings.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood follows last year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor? documentary as the second item in our current wave of Mr. Rogers appreciation. A Beautiful Day hits theaters in wide release on Nov. 22, 2019. Check out the trailer below.