Just the movie we all need right now!
Who is Mr Rogers?
Fred Rogers was the creator of the hit American children’s television show, Mister Rogers’ Neighbourhood.
He hosted all 895 episodes, composed its 200-plus songs, and more importantly, he was brave and honest enough to discuss real issues – death, racial equality, mental health and more.
He has a way with words that make people of all ages and backgrounds stop and listen. An example of this was back in 1969, when Mr Rogers famously testified before a Senate sub-committee that was considering cutting funding for public television. Senator John Pastore stood his ground on the decision until Fred spoke.
His powerful words were: “This is what I give. I give an expression of care every day to each child, to help them realise that they’re unique… I feel that if we in public television can only make it clear that feelings are mentionable and manageable, we will have done a great service for mental health.” These words were not only enough to stop money being cut – funding was actually increased!
In this delightfully charming movie from acclaimed Can You Ever Forgive Me? director Marielle Heller, two-time Oscar-winner Tom Hanks plays the much-loved host. It also tells the story of Lloyd Vogel (Emmy Award-winning British actor Matthew Rhys) – an Esquire magazine journalist dispatched to ‘profile’ Rogers for an upcoming issue.
During this time, very few people wanted to work with Vogel due to his reputation of being so cynical. In true Mr Rogers style, he saw past these damaging rumours and accepted the offer to be interviewed.
Rogers is at the centre of the movie, of course, but he’s not the focus. That would be Vogel, loosely based on the real-life journalist Tom Junod, who did indeed write an article on Rogers. The writer has issues regarding his partner, his baby – and don’t even get me started on the relationship with his father. Surely if anyone can help him sort out his life, it’s Mr Rogers?
This film was made for Hanks. Mr Rogers oozes warmth and compassion – yes, much like the actor playing him. It’s certainly not the most demanding role Hanks has had throughout his career, but I can’t exactly criticise the guy for being born to play a role.
He is phenomenal and worthy of his first Oscar nomination (for Best Supporting Actor) in 19 years, for this exhilarating performance in a film that will have you not only questioning your morals – but what a difference you could and should be making in this world.
Not many movies do that.
ESP Rating: 4/5
Cast: Tom Hanks, Matthew Rhys, Susan Kelchi Watson & Chris Cooper
Running Time: 1 Hr 48 Mins
Director: Marielle Heller
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