I may be one of the very few who never saw Mister Rogers's show and though I heard of him I didn't know what a nice guy he was and hard he worked to be one.
If anyone could play him it had to be Mister Nice Guy Tom Hanks but in spite of the role he is playing, with his name and picture the only ones in the ads, he is more of a supporting player. Yes they show bits and pieces of him interacting with people, doing songs and using hand puppets on his television show but the main character is Matthew Rhys. His role as Lloyd Vogel, a writer for Esquire magazine, brings him in touch with Fred Rogers as he is on an assignment to do a 400 word story of the man as a hero.
The main story revolves around Vogel and his father Jerry, played by Chris Cooper, who is an alcoholic and left his wife and children when she was dying. Without giving any spoilers his interview with Rogers turns into Rogers questioning him and learns about Vogel's father when the latter returns upon his daughter's, wedding day. I believe it is the first time the sister and brother have seen their father since he walked out.
By this time you know exactly where the story is heading and where it will end and you keep on waiting for something to happen! Like Rogers this film is a nice film about a nice guy and Hanks plays him to perfection. Once you would like to see him explode but the closest he comes to doing that is banging on the lower keys of the piano. I have seen his wife Joanne Rogers, played in a brief role by Maryann Plunkett, on interviews these past 2 weeks and I wanted to ask her how was it living with a constantly nice guy!
Matthew Rhys does a fine job as Vogel and it was great seeing Susan Kelechi Watson, from "This Is Us", playing his wife. I don't know who's choice it was for him to have that '5 o'clock shadow' but it was a bad choice.
I was surprised to see one of my favorite actresses in the role of the Esquire editor Ellen played by Christine Lahti though the role demands nothing from her. Chris Cooper as the father does his usual fine job while Enrico Colantoni role in an abbreviated role as a publicist for the show.
"A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood" is a nice film but too low key.