Ever since I found out a movie was being made about Mister Rogers (and played by Tom Hanks! Ahh!) I have been looking forward to it. If you’ve been around for a little while, you probably know how my love of Mister Rogers runs deep. Maybe it was the nostalgia at first, but the more I’ve come to learn about his work and re-discover him as an adult, it goes much farther than that. The truths he shared about each person’s intrinsic value, the importance of kindness, and his displays of humbleness are things we all need, despite age.

Image may contain: 3 people, including Mak McKeehan and Valerie Henderson McKeehan, people smiling, eyeglasses and beard

Mak and I, of course, decided to get tickets to see the movie on opening night. It was deep, moving and thought-provoking.

Here are my biggest takeaways from “A Beautiful Day in The Neighborhood.”

  1. I teared up within the first 10 minutes. (He might not admit it, but Mak did too.)
  2. Tom Hanks should win best actor! I really forgot it was Tom Hanks playing a role. I felt like I was wathcing Mister Rogers. The performance was spot on.
  3. The movie focuses on the character of the journalist. It was a movie about Mister Rogers that was somehow not about Mister Rogers at all. I almost think that is how he would have wanted it.
  4. The movie was a lot darker and heavier than I anticipated. It is not a fluffy movie. I think that’s what so brilliant though. Some may view Mister Rogers and think because he hosted a children’s TV show, it was fluffy or trivial. But on the contrary, it was humble and deep. The simplicity of his show made the message all the more important. There was no flash, nothing superficial or phony to hide behind. His vulnerabilty and message was on display plainly, without pretense. The movie followed in a similar fashion – it was somewhat slow, but not in a bad way. Instead it was in a way that made me pay attention because it was deep. It was so simple it was poignant.There are many things competing for our attention via social media and media in general. We have become a world that thrives on flashy and superficial – portray the right image, get the most likes, etc. But Mister Rogers was the opposite. One of my absolute favorite stories and quotes of his is this:“A high school student wrote to ask, “What was the greatest event in American history?” I can’t say. However, I suspect that like so many “great” events, it was something very simple and very quiet with little or no fanfare (such as someone forgiving someone else for a deep hurt that eventually changed the course of history). The really important “great” things are never center stage of life’s dramas; they’re always “in the wings”. That’s why it’s so essential for us to be mindful of the humble and the deep rather than the flashy and the superficial.”
  5. At one point the journalist asked Mister Rogers a question that suggested there was Mister Rogers the TV show host vs. Fred Rogers the person. But what you proceed to see is a man so beautifully living out what he believed. It was inspiring and made me think deeply about authenticity and how we can learn from his example to just be who we are. He was who he was when the cameras were rolling, but especially when they were not.
  6. The movie is a reminder that investing in just one person’s life has a ripple effect. Every person is significant. I hate to keep bringing up social media, but it seems we are in a culture of viewing people as numbers. How many followers, how many likes. Mister Rogers could have easily thought “I reach millions of people every day. That is enough.” But no, he invested in people’s lives in real and direct ways. This reminds me of another favorite quote of his:“If you could only sense how important you are to the lives of those you meet; how important you can be to the people you may never even dream of. There is something of yourself that you leave at every meeting with another person.”

So, I guess that wasn’t quite a review, but more so my thoughts on Mister Rogers in general after seeing the movie! Ha! But all in all, the movie made me love Mister Rogers more. He was an incredible man and I’m grateful his message is being spread in this way. We all need it.

On the day of the movie release, I posted this illustration to instagram. After hearing from many of you, I decided to release it as a special edition print for those who would like one! The print is sized to 8″ x 8″ and orders will ship the week of December 2nd. Thank you, everyone, who purchased a print already! You’re all the best.