It must be weird for a movie to be made about something that happened in a person’s real life. Sure, in A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, real-life journalist Tom Junod’s name is changed to Lloyd Vogel and details and facets of what happened change, but essentially the movie is the story of Mister Rogers and Junod, who has seen the movie more than once. Yet, how does he feel about his portrayal on the big screen?
Luckily, he doesn’t seem to be bitter after multiple viewings, although I wouldn't be shocked if he felt the movie was somewhat bittersweet. While opening up in a recent interview about how A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood doesn’t get everything right, Tom Junod also says he relates more to “the similarities” than “the differences.”
Yeah the thing that I relate to in the movie is the similarities. The differences melt away, the similarities to my own story [stay]. I mean, I’ve seen the movie a number of times now and every time it grabs me. Because, you know the mood is wonderful. It makes you not just see Mr. Rogers, not just learn about Mr. Rogers, but when you watch the movie you experience Mr. Rogers. His friendship is extended to you in the audience. So I feel like he’s reaching out to me when I watch the movie.
In fact, from what Tom Junod tells CNN, the story brought to life by Tom Hanks and Matthew Rhys on the big screen inspires feelings of nostalgia and brings back memories, which means the changes the movie made to the story weren't all that glaring. In fact, while speaking about the tone of the movie and his own personal experience watching it, he says he really felt good about how things were portrayed, including the composite character loosely based on Junod, who was an Esquire writer who penned a famous piece on the TV host.
In short, the non-accurate stuff didn’t bother him. His response is very similar to a lot of what the remaining members of the band Queen said after Bohemian Rhapsody came out last year after that biopic loosely based on the band came out. In fact, they also spoke out about the experience of the movie being different from their real lives, but still feeling very real.
It’s likely weird for people who are still alive to see their lives splashed up on the big screen, whether or not they find the experience to be compelling, as has happened with some other biopics. Fred Rogers may not still be around to see his legacy in A Beautiful Day in the Neightborhood, but Tom Junod is (and so was Rogers' wife, Joanne Rogers). Still, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a beautiful tribute to Fred Rogers, and one that we noted will bring a “sense of hope” to moviegoing this season. We previously noted in our review:
While plenty of Oscar hopefuls will make you cry by tearing at your heartstrings, this new biopic will inspire tears of happiness.
So it’s no wonder the movie also made Tom Junod feel all the feels. You too can get in on these feelings, as well, as A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is in theaters now. Take a look at what else will be contending when awards season rolls around with our full schedule.