Give beisbol a break for a moment.
I was too old to have watched Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood as a child. My heroes were Godzilla, Rodan, Moe, Larry, Curly and Bela Lugosi. However, I was a somewhat older dad, my daughter born when I was 40 and my son when I was 45, so I often watched it with them. My daughter doesn’t visibly display his influence but she practices it, and my son is a remarkably kind and gentle person, and he sure didn’t learn all of that from me. So Rogers was, if you will, an influential part of my daddyhood.
In any case I was intrigued by the snippets of Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers from the movie trailer I intercepted ahead of Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, then The Lighthouse and Midway (Redux). Slave to bad habits, I of course did some background reading about Rogers and watched last year’s documentary Won’t You be my Neighbor? before I went to see the Tom Hanks version.
I thought it was an ingenious way to tell the story of the Fred Rogers – scorched earth journalist Tom Junod friendship, as if the entire story takes place on a Mr. Rogers set with toy towns, cities, toy cars, airplanes and even a toy hearse standing in for scenes requiring the real things. Hanks is…well…Hanks. I don’t know too many actors who can disappear into a role the way he can. I figure this is as least another Oscar nomination for him, and right now I have to think this film is a hands-on favorite for Best Picture.
It nailed me right in the solar plexus of my fondest memories, but also forced me to think over the complicated relations I had with my own father who passed away ten years ago leaving a landfill of unresolved issues.