It only takes two words to take me right back to my childhood: “Hello, neighbor.”
I was raised on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. The first strains of those familiar opening credits . . . the smiling, kindly man walking through his front door . . . the beloved red cardigan . . . even now, all these years later, it gets me all warm and fuzzy inside.
When I heard Tom Hanks would be portraying Fred Rogers in a movie this year, I’ll admit—I was a little apprehensive. Mister Rogers holds such a revered place in my memory that the idea of someone else pretending to be him flirted with sacrilege.
But then, I saw the official movie trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood this morning and, true to Mister Rogers’ very mission, my feelings were soothed.
In the trailer, Matthew Rhys portrays Tom Junod, a journalist tasked with profiling Fred Rogers for an Esquire magazine feature on heroes. A clip shows Rhys as Junod telling his wife, incredulously, “I’m profiling Mister Rogers.”
Her reply echoes every single one of us who were raised in the Neighborhood as we await this Thanksgiving theatrical release: “Please don’t ruin my childhood.”
After seeing the movie trailer, I don’t think we have to worry about that at all.
Hanks seems to embody not just the look, but the spirit of Mister Rogers. If the full-length film can capture the charm and comfort and simple joy of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, it’s going to be one for the ages.
As I played the trailer on my computer this morning, my Daniel Tiger-loving 2-year-old happened to hear the music, and her eyes lit up. “Nay-ver-hood?” she asked, as she peered over my arm at the screen. “Hello, nay-ver.”
And therein lies the beauty of Mister Rogers, right? Even today, even in my grown-up living room, even in the often-wearying world of motherhood and modern life, Fred Rogers is still teaching us—still teaching the little girl inside of me, and now my own little girl—about simplicity.
The official movie description sums it up this way:
Tom Hanks portrays Mister Rogers in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, a timely story of kindness triumphing over cynicism, based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod. After a jaded magazine writer (Emmy winner Matthew Rhys) is assigned a profile of Fred Rogers, he overcomes his skepticism, learning about empathy, kindness, and decency from America’s most beloved neighbor.
As for me, I’m just one of the millions of lifelong fans who will be sitting in the theater come fall, waiting to learn all over again from one of America’s most enduring heroes.