As many of you know I am big fan of Fred Rogers and I loved the documentary that came out last year. I am also a fan of Tom Hanks, but I was not sure a dramatic film about Fred Rogers would work or that anyone could capture his unique character. My fears were unfounded. The film is excellent, and Hanks does a remarkable job of capturing him on and off camera. The story is not focussed on Rogers himself but rather on a journalist who is struggling with many personal problems and is assigned to write a short 400-word piece on Rogers for Esquire magazine as part of a series on American heroes. He resists because he sees himself as a serious investigative journalist and has zero respect for some guy who entertains kids. As the film progresses, we learn more about the journalist’s family and his deep anger and hatred for his father. He reluctantly heads off to interview Rogers and slowly is drawn into his character and authenticity. I will not go into the details of the relationship that grows over time but needless to say it is worth your time and is a very honest and challenging film. One spoiler, the journalist ends up not writing a 400 word profile but rather a 10,000 word article that headlined Esquire in 2017. I highly recommend you see this and try to see the documentary Won’t You Be my Neighbor. Director Heller recommended we all see both films even in conjunction if possible. I totally agree and also read the Esquire article you will find here:
I was not expecting the turn this film took but I thoroughly enjoyed my time. In what I took to be a police procedural is in fact a tribute film to classic whodunits from Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot to Columbo. The cast is amazing including Christopher Plummer as the victim, Daniel Craig as the detective and suspects including Michael Shannon, Don Johnson, Jamie Lee Curtis and Chris Evans among others. A crime novelist is found dead in his study. Police arrive with private detective Craig to investigate if it was suicide or….. murder. Craig is convinced he was murdered and knows someone in the family is guilty but as the investigation proceeds the twists and possible motives spin out. The script is hilarious, and nothing is taken too seriously by the writers so we are all laughing along as we try to piece together the clues. We get flashbacks to the night of the murder with Christopher Plummer playing the victim as he gives all family members a reason to kill him. I confess the dialogue was rapid fire and I really need to see it again to fully appreciate the whole story. We had a great Q and A with insightful questions that led to some great insight into how the film was made, what was scripted and what was ad lib and directorial decisions. Finally it included a great story from Jamie Lee Curtis about one of her very first on screen appearances with Peter Falk in Columbo. If you see me I will tell you the story. Its hilarious. In conclusion I think this movie has a good chance to make the People’s Choice Award but if not you should still try to see it. Rian Johnson was asked if Craig would be back in a sequel and his answer was to shrug and recommend we tell all our friends and acquaintances to go see the movie when it is released and … we will see. So since Craig needs a new job after 007 lets support this new direction.