There are plenty of threads running through Ted Lasso. It’s a fish-out-of-water story, a story of found family, and a show about football. It can be both a pretty funny comedy and a heartrending drama, and its ability to be both is part of its substantial appeal. Above all else, though, Ted Lasso is a show about the value of kindness. From its very first moment, the show is about how easy it is to be cruel to those around you, and why that’s often the wrong way to go.
Although plenty of great sports stories share many of the elements of Ted Lasso (after all, this is a show about an underdog team that comes together under a new coach), it’s that kindness element that feels most fundamental to the show’s ultimate appeal. And it’s the element that connects it to A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, one of the great underseen gems of the last few years. The movie, which presents as a Mr. Rogers biopic, actually has something much more interesting on its mind. And while there will probably not be a season 4 of Ted Lasso, here are three reasons why the movie is the perfect fit for fans of the Apple TV+ series.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood tells the story of an investigative journalist who is assigned to do a feature about Mr. Rogers toward the end of his decades-spanning career. The idea is that the journalist will prove that Mr. Rogers isn’t really the kind, gentle man that he appears to be on TV. He wants to prove that there’s a darkness there.
The problem is that, when he starts interacting with the man, he realizes that he has made every effort to be kind to those around him. As played by Tom Hanks, Fred Rogers is not a perfect man, but he’s someone who gets up every day and makes the effort to be a person kids can genuinely look up to. The journalist at the movie’s center becomes totally enraptured by Rogers, and discovers things about himself in the process of covering him. It’s not unlike the effect that Ted Lasso has on AFC Richmond as soon as he walks through the door.
It would be easy for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood to make Fred Rogers seem like a god — the very embodiment of kindness and warmth, an idyllic person that no actual human could every live up to. Instead, though, the movie takes the opposite approach, reminding us constantly that Fred Rogers is not superhuman. He’s kind and gentle, but he also likes to talk through puppets and seems to be a genuine oddball.
Instead, we see that Rogers was that way because he worked at it every day. He was distinctly human, and simply chose to emphasize the very best parts of himself whenever possible. It’s something that anyone could do, if they were simply willing to put in the effort.
As is also the case with A Man Called Otto, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a reminder of the profound gift that Tom Hanks continues to be on-screen. His Fred Rogers definitely takes the speech patterns of the famous man into account, but Hanks is undoubtedly aware that he plays a similar role to the famous child’s TV host in modern American’ life. It’s that combination of factors that makes the performance so thoroughly winning, even as it’s content with moments of quiet and stillness.
He’s matched by a great ensemble cast, including Matthew Rhys in the other central role. Ultimately, though, this is Tom Hanks’ show, and he puts on a good one.
While it’s true that A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is far less funny than Ted Lasso, the two have a philosophy in common that makes them both utterly compelling. These are stories of good people trying to prove both that it’s possible to be good, and that doing so is absolutely worth it.
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is now streaming on Starz. It’s also available for rent or purchase at a variety of digital vendors.
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