Updated: Feb 5
A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood, directed by Marielle Heller, tells the story of Lloyd Vogel and his struggles in trying to capture the perfect interview with Mr. Rogers. The movie is loosely based on true events, taking parts of real life LLoyd, actually known as Tom Junod, and his current situation in life.
When the movie premiered in 2019, there was a big emphasis on Tom Hank’s portrayal of Mr. Rogers. A lot of the films marketing kept this in mind and made him the main character for the promotional posters, and while Hank’s does do a phenomenal job as Mr. Rogers, you learn very quickly that the film isn’t about him. The film has very little to do with Mr. Rogers other than him being the focus of Lloyd’s article. He does appear throughout the film in moments to bane Lloyd’s existence or make the plot a little lighter.
I noted during the movie that it felt like one long PSA about morals and how humans should treat other humans, which makes sense considering who the film is based on. For what A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood lacks in awkward silences it makes up for it in its generous amount of charm, you can tell that the people working on this movie held the deepest respect for Mr. Rogers and what he had created.
I imagine when creating a movie such as this, recreating sets and physical components that are so iconic to a viewer can be very stressful. Yet the intro of the movie and the small-scale sets are seemingly taken straight from the t.v show itself; it especially sends chills up your arms when you first see Hanks as Mr. Rogers.
The cinematography and lighting are that of an indie film, which is what this movie is. In a specific scene featuring Daniel the tiger, Lloyd is cast in the dark with hints of blue while Rogers is in the light with hints of yellow. The juxtaposing lights shows the audience how different the characters are from each other, one radiates sunshine while the other lives in the storm clouds.
Around the hour and twenty-minute mark the movie becomes a fever dream of effects as Lloyd Vogel is essentially tripping out in a fever dream like sequence. It’s also surprising how unlikeable they made him considering he is primarily the main character of the movie, and to me, he didn’t really redeem himself by the end of the movie. Yes, he technically does redeem himself before it’s all over, but it just doesn’t seem like enough. I think they should have showed more signs of him feeling guilty or trying and failing to do good rather than him being a dick most of the movie then suddenly turning good towards the end for his father.
A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood is a good movie for Lloyd Voguel/Tom Junod fans and an easter egg hunt for Mr. Rogers fans. If you go into this movie assuming it’s a documentary/biographical movie of Rogers, you’re going to be disappointed.
A Wonderful Day in the Neighborhood gets 3 stars.