Movie Mondays ~ Monday, December 16, 2019

Movie Mondays ~ Monday, December 16, 2019

Every week,  I show up here anticipating that this will be the week I will surprise anyone reading my movie blogs on Monday and I will bring multiple flicks to blog about in reviews once more. Sigh. It’s been a really long time since I’ve had a week like that, one with that kind of downtime available. So did I have a week like that this past week? Hell, no! Once again, a single movie will have to do, but at least this time I got myself out of the house and into the movie theaters like a good consumer. Read on to find out what recently released film that has some Oscar buzz around one of its performers I went to see in person. And as always, thanks for reading. ~ Chris K.


FILMS VIEWED WEEK OF 12/09/2019 – 12/15/2019

 *click on photos to enlarge



109. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Biography, Drama (2019)
Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett


If you read me regularly, you know that I attribute whatever you like or dislike about me to to the long-lasting impact while growing up (some would say affliction) from three major television entities in my life: Sesame Street, Saturday Night Live, and Mister Rogers Neighborhood. So when I heard that Tom Hanks was playing THE Fred Rogers, I had already heard about this great new documentary that surely would be up for Best Documentary Feature in 2018 (and then shockingly wasn’t). I also thought it was curious that once again Tom Hanks was playing a real life person. That seems like it would be an awful lot of pressure.


If you’ve been watching the pre-release promotion of this film, like me, you’ve probably seen many talk shows that have featured some of the actors in the movie and other segments that would spotlight regular people like you and me who along the way had interacted with Fred Rogers or Fred Rogers and his wife Joanne and found out what remarkable and caring people they were. So some of these stories of his kindness, generosity and empathy have been shared across various talk shows lately. I didn’t know when I went to see this film that I was going to be watching one of those stories on a much more detailed level and not a story about Mister Rogers. I guess I needed to do my homework more, and that’s my own fault, but after seeing the wonderful documentary WON’T YOU BE MY NEIGHBOR? (2018), I was only more excited about seeing a fictional depiction of a man who I already knew a little bit about and could identify with the kind of impact he had on children personally, as one of those kids growing up in the early to mid 70s. While the story of journalist Lloyd Vogel (serving as real-life journalist Tom Junod)  is a compelling one and the actors who portray him and his wife (Rhys and Kelechi Watson) as well as Hanks in the pivotal role, I still didn’t love the film. In fact, I was actually disappointed by the film.


Now here is where I will let the filmmakers off the hook a little because my disappointment often results from me setting expectations unrealistically high. And I had no reason to think that this would be a fantastic movie. Sure, I love Mister Rogers and Tom Hanks is always reliable for a good performance but his films don’t always hit it out of the park. Like every actor, he has his duds, too. If you don’t believe me, rent PUNCHLINE or VOLUNTEERS. I won’t even provide you the links to IMDB, because they’re that bad.  I do blame the folks behind the promotion of this film because I feel like they are setting up audiences expectations falsely. While we get glimpses into the caring man who looks out for others, we don’t get to dive deep into his own personal story and struggles the way I was hoping this film would explore in a more frank way than the entertaining but quite polite documentary. If you are looking for a biographical film about Fred Rogers, what he was like as a child, how he found his own path on public television and what led him to lead this life rather than pursue his many other talents full-time, sorry to disappoint you but you’re not really going to find it here.


If you’re a huge fan of Mister Rogers and haven’t seen it, rent the 2018 documentary instead and let me encourage you to visit YouTube as I did after seeing this film and search for Mister Rogers interviews, all that you can find. You’ll be amazed at what’s available out there, including “The Tonight Show” with Joan Rivers guest hosting (that’s amusing in itself!), a great interview from the old Charlie Rose Show (particularly ironic when you consider such a pious and ethical man being interviewed by well, someone who it turns out may not subscribe to that same set of principles) and of course, catch previous episodes of the show itself there, as well.


But I would say don’t invest the money in a movie ticket for this one. Wait until it comes to one of your streaming services you already have. It’s not worth rushing out. Keep your sweater on and  your sneakers tied. There’s no reason to leave the Neighborhood of Make-Believe. Besides, there’s enough reality out there to last you several lifetimes.


Score: 79







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