This film is probably deeply nostalgic for several generations of Americans. It’s based on the host of an extremely popular children’s television show, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood, which ran from 1968 to 2001.
Tom Hanks plays the impossibly affable Fred Rogers during the latter part of his career. He’s fragile, very slow and deliberate in speech, and still making his TV Show. A reporter from Esquire magazine, Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys) is sent on assignment to interview Mr Rogers. Vogel – based on real life journalist, Tom Junod – is cynical, grudging, and clearly has some buried emotional issues to deal with. The film is a slightly fictionalised version of their true encounter. As it focuses more on the Vogel character, with Mr Rogers acting as a catalyst for some emotional detoxing.
It’s beautifully made and the recreations of the original children’s show set and portrayal of Mr Rogers are said to be exceptional. But the lack of familiarity and therefore, connection with the story may rob some viewers of the empathy required to really enjoy this film.
Reviewed by Rita Bratovich