Brow Beat

The Trailer for the Tom Hanks–as–Mr. Rogers Movie Says It All: “Please Don’t Ruin My Childhood”

Those who held their breath during the Fred Rogers documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? might find themselves doing the same while watching the trailer for a new depiction of the children’s entertainer. A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood stars Tom Hanks as Rogers and Matthew Rhys as a “jaded magazine writer” charged with profiling him for an issue about heroes. (The character is fictional but based on Tom Junod, who penned such a profile for Esquire.) In the trailer, the journalist’s wife says to him in bed what we’re probably all thinking: “Please don’t ruin my childhood.”

From the looks of it, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood has no plans to do so, no shadow of a bombshell waiting to be dropped, so you can breathe easy. Director Marielle Heller’s last feature was another biographical drama, Can You Ever Forgive Me?, but her subject was Lee Israel, a cranky, selfish, criminal antiheroine, which is part of what made it so compelling to watch. Fred Rogers was, by all accounts, as warm, kind, and aboveboard in real life as he was on TV—if more pessimistic toward the end—which is probably why the journalist character was necessary to create at least some tension. Otherwise, watching Hanks do his best Rogers impression, even singing “Won’t You Be My Neighbor,” is as cozy as a red sweater.

The trailer ends with Hanks being serenaded on a train, an anecdote right out of Junod’s profile of Rogers:

Once upon a time, Mister Rogers went to New York City and got caught in the rain. He didn’t have an umbrella, and he couldn’t find a taxi, either, so he ducked with a friend into the subway and got on one of the trains. It was late in the day, and the train was crowded with children who were going home from school. Though of all races, the schoolchildren were mostly black and Latino, and they didn’t even approach Mister Rogers and ask him for his autograph. They just sang. They sang, all at once, all together, the song he sings at the start of his program, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” and turned the clattering train into a single soft, runaway choir.