FILM REVIEW | A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood

There are few figures more ingrained in American childhoods than Mr Rogers.

The children's entertainer is like Playschool, Mr Squiggle and The Wiggles all rolled into one.

While it might seem like a stretch that a film about the beloved Fred Rogers would make an impact on Australian audiences who are unfamiliar with the man, that's far from the case.

A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood (the title comes from one of Mr Rogers' songs) is moving and filled with heart and joy regardless of whether you know the man at the centre.

And perhaps that's because he's not at the centre, not really.

The story isn't about Mr Rogers himself as much as it is about his effect on people around him.

And who should play this person, this pillar of all things good and right? Tom Hanks, of course.

Hanks has picked up a slew of nominations for his supporting role as Mr Rogers, and it's easy to see why.

He radiates warmth and understanding.

Pure joy: Tom Hanks stars as the beloved American children's presenter Fred Rogers opposite Matthew Rhys as Lloyd Vogel in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, rated PG, in cinemas now.

Pure joy: Tom Hanks stars as the beloved American children's presenter Fred Rogers opposite Matthew Rhys as Lloyd Vogel in A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood, rated PG, in cinemas now.

Matthew Rhys - Emmy-winning star of The Americans and Brothers and Sisters - stars opposite Hanks as Lloyd Vogel, a fictionalised version of real-life journalist Tom Junod.

It's Vogel's story that the audience follows.

The esteemed journalist is used to uncovering corruption and crime, and thinks a profile on a 'hokey kid's TV show guy' is beneath him.

But he soon realises that meeting Mr Rogers was exactly what he needed to happen in his life, after his estranged father arrives on the scene.

The anger, hurt and frustration Vogel feels are brilliantly portrayed by Rhys and will be easily understood by anyone who has absentee father issues.

Oscar-winner Chris Cooper (Adaptation, American Beauty) plays Vogel's father and does a great job of it.

While some viewers might be disconcerted by a couple of Marielle Heller's directorial choices - using a model set for establishing shots, opening the film like an episode of Mr Rogers' show - A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood is still sure to be moving.

Unfortunately it will make few waves in a country that doesn't know its drawcard, but the film is well worth a watch.

Rating: 7.5/10