For this review, allow me to take you way back to my childhood for just a little bit. Truth be told, I was hooked on just about any kids show that wasn't 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'. Not that I terribly minded the show, but all the quiet, slow talking and the way he sang just wasn't for me. I liked my shows a bit more energetic, and if they featured Muppets, even better.
But with that said, one thing about 'MRN' (yes, I short-formed it) I'll never forget is tuning into it as a sort of comforting things to watch any time I was home sick from school. For whatever reason, his voice and whole presentation was like a warm, soothing blanket when you were sick.
So yeah, it's safe to say that I most certainly dabbled in the show, as it had a way of uplifting me when I was feeling otherwise pretty crappy. It just goes to show that Fred Rogers had a certain way that he spoke to kids. Even if we weren't particularly fans of the guy, there was certainly nothing off-putting about him. He understood that the best way to speak to us kids was to get on our level, and answer all the really hard questions like "what does assassination mean?" (and no, I'm not kidding).
In this film, Fred Rogers is portrayed by Tom Hanks, and we go into it thinking that it's probably gonna end up being a story about his life, and how he became one of the most beloved kids TV show hosts of all time. But to my ultimately pleasant surprise, it wasn't that at all. Though this may disappoint some, I couldn't help but find it a breath of fresh air that it was actually about something a bit deeper than a simple biopic - though just enough is covered that we get a brief education on who Fred Rogers is.
This story actually belongs to writer Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), who has been put on assignment for Esquire Magazine to interview Mr. Rogers. Lloyd has a certain reputation of digging to get dirt on his celebrities, but upon interviewing this childhood icon, he finds that there really is a such thing as a genuinely good person who wants nothing more than to help people through simply loving them.
The whole thing is interestingly enough presented like an episode of 'Mister Rogers' Neighborhood'. The intro is the usual entrance and changing into a sweater and house shoes, and Tom Hanks, doing a pretty good impression of Fred Rogers, introduces us to Lloyd Vogel, and this long drawn-out episode covers both Lloyd's article (for Esquire Magazine, check it out!), but Lloyd's home life as a new father, who is having problems with his own father.
The whole film unfolds in such an interestingly deep way, as it's as though Mister Rogers is still talking to us in that loving, comforting way, but covering some serous issues one might be having in adulthood. It does a great job at reintroducing us to Fred Rogers as a genuinely good man who wanted nothing more than to help not only kids, but masses of other people, if they were lost in some point of their lives. He just understood that people needed help, and that there was never anything wrong with asking for it. With a third "5" in a row, perhaps this seems like I'm getting too generous. But this really is the movie we all need right now.