‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ reviews: Tom Hanks was ‘born to play’ Mr. Rogers and deserves ‘hyperbolic praise’

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” opened on November 22, a little more than a year after “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” explored Fred Rogers‘s life and career in documentary form. But “Beautiful Day” isn’t a Mr. Rogers biopic, per se. It shows him through the eyes of a cynical journalist whose worldview is changed when he profiles the beloved children’s show host. So what do critics think of this point of view?

As of this writing the film has a MetaCritic score of 80 based on 41 reviews counted thus far: 39 positive and only 2 somewhat mixed. Over on Rotten Tomatoes the film is rated 96% fresh based on 157 reviews, only 5 of which are classified as negative. The RT critics’ consensus summarizes those reviews by saying, “Much like the beloved TV personality that inspired it, ‘A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ offers a powerfully affecting message about acceptance and understanding.”

MC scores reviews on a sliding scale from 0-100, while RT rates them as simply pass/fail, so RT scores give you a broad overview of the amount of admiration there is for a film, while MC presents more nuance. In this case, the scores indicate that almost everyone likes the film to varying degrees, and there’s also a good deal of outright love for it; consider than five of those MC reviews are rated a perfect 100.

Tom Hanks is getting much of the praise for his performance as Rogers. He was “born to play this role,” channeling his “unflappable, generous sincerity” with “extreme care and pressurized restraint.” The performance deserves “hyperbolic praise.” Matthew Rhys also “triumphs” as the journalist interviewing Rogers. And director Marielle Heller “is on a serious roll” following her previous films “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” and “Can You Ever Forgive Me?“; she gives this film “a faintly surreal edge” and “resists the temptation to go for the tear ducts.”

So will the film be an Oscar contender? Hanks’s films “Toy Story 3” (2010), “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” (2011), “Captain Phillips” (2013), “Bridge of Spies” (2015) and “The Post” (2017) were all nominated for Best Picture in recent years, but somehow Hanks himself hasn’t been nominated since “Cast Away” (2000) — that was 19 years ago. But this may be his most physically transformative prestige role since that film, so this could be his ticket back in.

Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow movie fans here in our forums.

Sara Stewart (New York Post): “This is no straightforward biopic, and that’s to this film’s advantage. First of all, just last year saw a terrific documentary about Rogers, and secondly, it’s the rare biopic that doesn’t wander into predictability … Hanks was born to play this role. He’s not channeling Rogers, exactly, but he has a firm grasp on the unflappable, generous sincerity that was the TV host’s trademark.”

Ella Kemp (The Playlist): “Her Mister Rogers is one that should see Hanks earn wholly justified hyperbolic praise for his performance. It’s one of extreme care and pressurized restraint. Kindness on Mister Rogers’ level is something that requires immense work, that few people are willing to commit to—and this actor did … Matthew Rhys triumphs as the jaded investigative journalist, fighting both his professional cynicism and deeply rooted resentment for his imperfect father.”

Mick LaSalle (San Francisco Chronicle): “Directed by Marielle Heller, the Bay Area native who is on a serious roll (‘The Diary of a Teenage Girl,’ ‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’), the film has a faintly surreal edge … It sends you out of the movie feeling as if you’ve spent time with Fred Rogers and that you have definitely benefited from the contact.”

Randy Cordova (Arizona Republic): “Things can get cloying at times — such as when a train full of passengers serenades Mr. Rogers with his theme tune. But director Marielle Heller (‘Can You Ever Forgive Me?’) for the most part resists the temptation to go for the tear ducts. The film is generally quite restrained. That’s an admirable trait, but the result is never terribly affecting despite all-around-solid work from the cast.”

Be sure to make your Oscar nominee predictions today so that Hollywood insiders can see how their films and performers are faring in our odds. You can keep changing your predictions as often as you like until just before nominees are announced on January 13. And join in the fun debate over the 2020 Academy Awards taking place right now with Hollywood insiders in our film forums. Read more Gold Derby entertainment news.

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