A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood Ending Explained

New York journalist Esquire Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Reese) specializes in various scandalous materials: about abortion, rape and serial killers. And this corresponds to his character: Lloyd is quite cynical and used to seeing the unsightly side of life. In addition, at one time, Vogel suffered a serious childhood trauma: his father Jerry (Chris Cooper) left the family at a time when Lloyd’s mother was very ill.

Imagine Vogel’s surprise when the magazine’s editor-in-chief gave him the task of doing an interview for the so-called “profile of influential people.” The magazine is about to profile Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), the famed host of PBS’s “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood” children’s show. And Lloyd has to write four hundred words for this profile.

Lloyd Rogers is not very interesting: he seems to him too optimistic, to the point of cloying. But, by the way, a journalist specializing in scandalous topics may find it interesting to look into the inner world of a person who for everyone is the image of such a kind uncle and even a shepherd who guides children on the true path.

For an interview with Rogers in Pittsburgh, the journalist had to fly not in the best shape: he managed to fight with his own father at the wedding of Lloyd’s sister, where their father, quite unexpectedly for everyone, showed up in person.

When Vogel arrives at the studio where the program is being filmed, he is completely amazed at how cordially he was received by Rogers, and it is clear that this cordiality is completely sincere, not fake. And when he starts interviewing Fred, it turns out that Rogers is interviewing a journalist rather than vice versa. Fred asks him various questions about his life and the lives of his loved ones, and Lloyd begins to discuss some very important questions with the host.

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In this film, you need to understand the context well, which for non-Americans will be completely incomprehensible. Fred Rogers for America is an absolutely legendary person. He has been working on television since 1951: at first he participated in various NBC musical projects. He then went on to host the children’s show Mister Rogers in Toronto, Canada. In 1968, Pittsburgh Public Television launched his most famous show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which aired until August 31, 2001, is one of the longest-running series for children. Without exaggeration, we can say that several generations of American children were brought up on the program of Mr. Rogers and the whole country knew him.

Moreover, Rogers in this program acted not only as a host. He was its screenwriter, director and composer. He also voiced the dolls that participated in the program. The show for 33 years has always started and ended the same way: views of the doll town “Neighbourhood for fun”, also at the beginning of the program, Rogers always sang the song “Do you want to be my neighbor”, changing his jacket and shoes for a comfortable house sweater and light sneakers.

Here in this video they assembled this song from records from 1968 to 2000.

The story of how a journalist specializing in various scandalous topics was asked for Esquire to do a four hundred word story about Rogers for his profile – it really took place. The journalist’s name was Tom Junod, a personal acquaintance with Mr. Rogers to a certain extent changed his life and made him look at some things from a completely different angle, and as a result, after several interviews, Tom wrote a huge article about Rogers in 10 thousand words “Can You Say…Hero?” (“Can you say… hero?”), which was published in Esquire with a portrait of Fred Rogers on the cover. This article can be read in the archive on the journal’s website. Well, in reality, Junod and Rogers really became great friends. Rogers had a lot of friends: he, judging by numerous testimonies, had the ability to win over various people and he was really sincerely interested in what was going on with these people.

They decided to make a movie out of this story. The director of the film, Marielle Heller, had previously directed the well-received film Diary of a Teenage Girl, and she worked on two series. The producers gave the project a green light when it turned out that Tom Hanks, who, without any exaggeration, is truly America’s favorite and one of the most iconic American actors, agreed to play the role of Rogers. And it was clear that there was no better actor for the role of a “modern saint”, as the TV presenter himself was called, because Tom Hanks almost always played “good guys”.

And there were two more interesting moments. Firstly, Tom Hanks is, although distant, but a relative of Fred Rogers (something like a sixth cousin great-nephew). And, secondly, the wife of Fred Rogers, who advised the project, not only fully and completely approved of Hanks’ candidacy, but also said that, in her opinion, no one but Tom could have played Fred better than anyone else.

Well, it’s no surprise that Hanks played Rogers superbly. And the point is not at all that he exactly copies the host and his manner. And the fact that Hanks, thanks to his own charisma and charm, managed to convey the charisma and charm of Rogers.

Left – Fred Rogers, right – Tom Hanks

In addition to Tom Hanks, other good actors also participate in the film. Lloyd Vogel was played by Matthew Reese, the star of The Americans. He played very well: he demonstrated both the personal tragedies of this person, and how communication with Rogers began to change him and in the end noticeably changed.

I note that the story of Lloyd Vogel is a purely cinematic device: the creators of the picture needed to amplify the problems that the journalist has, so there was a scoundrel father, and a fight with his father at his sister’s wedding, and the subsequent gradual rapprochement and reconciliation – the real Tom Junod does not have this was, which is why the name of the journalist in the film was changed.

Lloyd’s wife was played by actress Susan Kelechi Watson – I remember her from the good TV series This Is Us, and I really liked her there, she had a role in the TV series Billions. Here, too, the role is noticeable: she does not have many episodes, but the character is very bright.

Chris Cooper perfectly played the villainous dad Jerry, although there the character himself turned out to be very flat and primitive in the script. At first he was pictorially rascal, then he repented pictorially. Chris Cooper played him with great skill and even breathed some life into Jerry, but there the line with his father – very, I note, far-fetched – turned out to be quite cardboard. Here’s the line with Randall’s father in the aforementioned This Is Us – absolutely wonderful: subtle, dramatic and delicate. And here – in my opinion, it did not work out very well.

Actually, it was for this reason that at first I rather did not like the film – despite the very good acting work. Firstly, without a definite understanding of what kind of person – meaning Fred Rogers – they show in this film, it is not very clear why it is filmed that way. At first it seemed to me that the audience was being shown some absolutely fictional and idealized figure – a kind of “modern saint” – which had nothing to do with reality. And only when, after watching it, I collected the relevant information and found out that such a person really existed and he was shown close enough to who he really was, then it made a completely different impression.

The real Fred Rogers, of course, was not a “modern saint”, and his wife in the film makes it clear that she does not like this definition. However, the real Fred Rogers had very strong beliefs that he followed all his life, and his programs show how extraordinary he is, and the people who talked to him talked about it many times.

Interestingly, this is not mentioned in the picture, but Rogers was also a graduate of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, and he took an active part in the affairs of the local Presbyterian church, that is, he was the same good shepherd, not to mention the fact that he was a very pious person .

By the way, in Nixon times, they wanted to seriously reduce funding for the public television channel, but one speech by Rogers with a very short speech in the Senate convinced officials not to do this: Fred Rogers’s speech in the Senate at the hearings is on Youtube, here it is.

Yes, this is a film about an amazing person, and the filmmakers managed to show who he was and what he was. However, they practically do not affect Rogers’ personal history at all, and he went through depression and certain problems in relationships with his own children, and without this, the image of the host seemed not very solid without this. Yes, in the picture this was taken literally a couple of phrases from Rogers in a conversation with a journalist, but that’s all.

Of course, I view this film as a viewer who knows very little about the background – the legendary program of Fred Rogers. Without this understanding, the film seemed unnecessarily smooth and manipulative to me. But I just didn’t know anything about this man.

After I collected certain information about him, my attitude towards the film began to change: I understood what exactly they wanted to show and why they wanted to show it that way. At the same time, I continue to consider the story with the journalist’s father to be very clumsily made, although well-played, but certain questions have disappeared for the character brilliantly played by Tom Hanks.

Now I perceive this film in a different way, it, in my opinion, deserves to be watched, it is well played and well staged, although not without flaws.

However, I will not stop saying that if with these actors the director and screenwriters would have delved deeper into the topic and shown certain problems that Fred Rogers had, and worked out the story with Lloyd’s father more carefully, the film would have greatly benefited from this.

And so – this is a good movie, good. Not even almost manipulative, which I can’t stomach. But a little, in my opinion, did not hold out.

PS Surely in the comments they will ask. The last name of the film journalist is Vogel. This is a German surname, which in Germany, of course, is pronounced Vogel (this is how it is written in several reviews). But in the States it is pronounced as Vogel – it is clearly audible in the film. The surname of the prototype journalist from the film is Junod: she is of French origin and is pronounced Junot in France. But in the States it is pronounced as Junod. That’s why I wrote it.

Upd: It turns out that Fred Rogers came to the United States and participated in the program “Good night, kids” – here is an interesting video about this visit.

 

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood movie meaning

Director: Mariel Heller Cast: Matthew Reese, Tom Hanks, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Marianne Plunkett, Enrico Colantoni, Wendy McKenna, Tammy Blanchard, Noah Harpster, Carmen Cusack

Budget: $25 million, Global gross: $68 million
Biographical melodrama, USA-China, 2019, 109 min.

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