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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood - Blu-ray Review

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

There’s a key scene about halfway through A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood in which cynical journalist Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), utters under his breath, "he's about the nicest person I've ever met.” Of course, Lloyd is talking about Fred Rogers, the host of PBS’ long-running children’s television program Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood. It marks the point at which Lloyd, who is interviewing Rogers for a magazine article, begins to realize that not everyone is like himself. There are actually nice people in the world.

"it is indeed a beautiful day to be in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood again"


In the journalistic arena, Lloyd has developed an intimidating reputation as a tough-as-nails investigative reporter for Esquire magazine. However, his taste for malicious takedown pieces of public figures has left the writer with few willing interview subjects, and even fewer friends. When given the assignment for a brief puff piece on the beloved children’s entertainer Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks), Lloyd begrudgingly accepts the assignment, but with the intention of pulling back the curtain to reveal a hidden truth behind the sweet, gentle television icon. So it is especially rewarding – and is one of the film’s biggest coups – to watch Lloyd slowly begin to realize that Fred just might indeed be the nicest person he’s ever met.

An important thing to know about A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is that the film isn’t a biopic about Fred Rogers. If you want that, go watch last year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a wonderful documentary from Morgan Neville that gets into the essence of who the man was and the importance of what he brought to the world through his television program.

Instead, the story in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – as well as the Lloyd Vogel character – is inspired by the 1988 article “Can You Say … Hero?” by Tom Junod which appeared in Esquire magazine. {googleads}

As the story plays out, we learn that Lloyd comes from a troubled childhood and is forced to turn his gaze inward when Fred uses his innate ability to turn the interview around on Lloyd, which causes the journalist to confront the traumatic relationship he has with his father Jerry (Chris Cooper). And that is where A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood gets most of its drive. As Lloyd’s distrust is slowly chipped away, we also find ourselves looking inward to reconnect with parts of our long since buried past.

It’s not an easy task for a director to so effortlessly drag an audience into a story as exquisitely as Marielle Heller (Can You Ever Forgive Me?) does with A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood. But the story from writers Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster is just so darn sweet and engaging it is nearly impossible to not be enraptured by its corny approachability. And the film’s affable charm is also, in part, due to Hanks’ perfect casting. Heller was apparently instrumental in getting hanks to accept the role. It is a different film without him.A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

It is also worth pointing out that Hanks does not perform a Fred Rogers impression. He definitely has the look, voice, and mannerisms, but it is in the way in which he captures Fred’s essence that totally sells the performance. Hanks, a man equally known for his wholesome magnetism, displays a truth and quietness behind the eyes, and as a result, everything feels perfectly real.

Another of Heller’s big successes comes from the way in which she has structured her film – in the simple style we all came to know from Rogers’ television program. For scene transitions, her camera slowly pans through tiny clay and wooden models of the film’s main settings, Pittsburgh and New York City while little toy cars and airplanes zoom about to a piano tinkling the film’s theme music.

The film’s only knock – and it’s a minor one – comes from the fact that it follows last year’s Won’t You Be My Neighbor, a film that steals some of the Rogers thunder, having somewhat demystified the enigmatic man at the heart of both films. Regardless, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a lovingly crafted tribute to the influence Fred Rogers held over others… especially the broken. It takes on so many complicated emotions, from anger, death, cynicism, and heartache, yet feeds them to us in a way that is never overwhelming. Kind of like how he always did to children on his show. And thanks to all the elements that have come together so perfectly, it is indeed a beautiful day to be in Mr. Rogers’ neighborhood again.

4/5 stars

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Home Video Distributor: Sony Pictures
Available on Blu-ray
- February 18, 2020
Screen Formats: 1.85:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Portuguese, Spanish, Arabic, Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Polish, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish
Audio:
English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: Blu-ray Disc; Two-disc set; DVD copy
Region Encoding: Locked to Region A

With an audio commentary, blooper reel, deleted scenes, a couple of making-of featurettes and a 1080p 1.85:1 transfer this Blu-ray + DVD + Digital edition release belongs on your shelf. In addition to the blu-ray disc, the package includes a DVD copy of the film, and a digital redemption code.

Video

Yes, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is indeed beautiful in hi-def with a subtle richness of color and an added grain that perfectly complement the sweet and uplifting subject matter. However, with no action and no special effects, it's not really the type of movie that benefits from a 1080p watch. Having said that, the re-watchability factor is so high with this one, it's one you'll definitely want to own.

Audio

Like its video component, there's nothing extraordinary about the English 5.1 DTS-HD MA track, but that's not the fault of the makers of the film, nor of Sony. It is a dialogue-heavy film and as such, your center channels will carry most of the load with the surrounds and subs only kicking in on occasion during the wonderful score and soundtrack featuring songs from Nick Drake, Cat Stevens, Fred Rogers, and others.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Feature commentary audio track with director Marielle Heller and director of photography Jody Lee Pipes.

Special Features:

Now here is where this Blu-ray + DVD + Digital edition earns its place in your collection with a feature-length audio commentary from director Marielle Heller and DP Jody Lee Pipes, numerous deleted and extended scenes, a blooper reel, a character study, and a couple of making-of featurettes. As good as the film itself is, you'll most certainly find yourself spending quality time with the bonus material that comes in the package.

  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
  • Blooper Reel (01:38)
  • Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers (10:29)
  • The People Who Make a Neighborhood: The Making Of (15:23)
  • Dreaming Big, Building Small: The Puppets & Miniatures (08:37)
  • Daniel Tiger Explains: Practuce Makes Perfect (02:42)
  • Trailers

Blu-ray Rating:

  Movie 4/5 stars
  Video  4/5 stars
  Audio 4/5 stars
  Extras 4/5 stars

Overall Blu-ray Experience

4/5 stars

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

MPAA Rating: PG for some strong thematic material, a brief fight, and some mild language.
Runtime:
108 mins
Director
: Marielle Heller
Writer:
Micah Fitzerman-Blue, Noah Harpster
Cast:
Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Chris Cooper
Genre
: Drama | Biography
Tagline:
We Could All Use a Little Kindness.
Memorable Movie Quote: "He's about the nicest person I've ever met."
Theatrical Distributor:
Tristar Pictures
Official Site: https://www.abeautifulday.movie/
Release Date:
November 22, 2019
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
February 18, 2020.
Synopsis: Based on the true story of a real-life friendship between Fred Rogers and journalist Tom Junod.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

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