A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Blu-ray Review

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Film Title: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Release Date: 2019
Rating: PG
Runtime: 109 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Distributor: Sony
Audio Formats: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Aspect Ratio(s): 1.85:1
Version Reviewed: Blu-ray Disc
Blu-ray Release Date: 2/18/20
Director: Marielle Heller
Cast: Matthew Rhys, Tom HanksChris Cooper, Susan Kelechi Watson, Maryann Plunkett, Enrico Colantoni

Jump to Sections:
Movie
| Video | Audio | Bonus | Closing | Screenshots
Full Blu-ray Tech Specs at bottom

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The Movie

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” was a 2019 film, based on a true story, directed by Marielle Heller, best known for directing “Can You Ever Forgive Me?” (2018) and “The Diary of a Teenage Girl” (2015), as well as for her acting. The screenplay here was co-written by Micah Fitzerman-Blue and Noah Harpster, which was based on (inspired by) the article “Can You Say… Hero?” written by Tom Junod from the November 1998 issue of Esquire Magazine. This is where the based on a true story part comes in.

There are two primary main characters in this story, the TV persona version and the real-life version of “Mister Rogers” / Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) as well as a magazine author [here] named “Lloyd Vogel” (Matthew Rhys) who is assigned to write an article about Rogers. This basically is the story that was originally the Esquire Magazine article, in fact, Lloyd even works there, but some things have been changed – like his name obviously in comparison to the original author.

The movie itself plays out from start to finish in many ways much like an episode of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” [television show] with the occasional cutscenes to Mister Rogers (in character) narrating the film as it progresses along at first, and then transitions over to the dramatic scenes. Early on, during the TV-style footage, we also get to see a lot of older style miniatures – as used in the original show – depicting the buildings, backdrops, cars, and even airplanes during most of the first travel scenes. It’s a tad bit weird to all see put together at once, at first, especially for adults, but it finally really begins to blend together rather nicely – making for a very nice, unique, and innocent visual theme that helps progress along with the narrative to the serious subject matter.

The writer, Lloyd, is a very cynical man and it certainly seems has lost his faith for the most part in humanity, primarily because of his unhealthy relationship, or lack thereof, with his father. During his assignment for Esquire, Lloyd refuses (at first) to believe that Fred Rogers is real and truly a good-natured person, that very same lovable persona that the world comes to know via his television show. Their meeting isn’t so much just an interview of him with Mister Rogers as it is Mister Rogers asking him questions about himself, a bit like therapy. Rogers knew that this man was troubled deep down inside, from both reading his work beforehand and meeting him and reached out to Lloyd.

The latter half of the film itself deals with a very serious matter and I refuse to discuss it, to avoid spoilers. Let’s just say that you’ll likely be emotionally moved by this very good-hearted film. It’s no wonder that it earned Tom Hanks an Academy Award nomination (for Best Supporting Actor), and inevitably it’s no wonder it is still “Certified Fresh” over at Rotten Tomatoes – at the time of writing – and even well-rated over at IMDb. It should also go said that Matthew Rhys especially, and Chris Cooper, in a small but pivotal role, both offer up some great performances here as well.

Movie Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)


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Video Quality

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” on its debut to Blu-ray is presented in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio and 1.33:1 in some scenes, just as it was shown during its theatrical run. This comes on a BD-50 (50 gigabytes dual-layered) Blu-ray Disc. To get rather a bit technical for a moment here, the film itself is using 27.7 gigabytes itself out of the 37.37 GB total used entirely on the disc.

As mentioned above, this is in the 1.85:1 aspect ratio, with the exception of some TV scenes which are framed correctly in the 1.33:1 (4×3) aspect ratio and included black pillar bars on the sides.

First off, let me say don’t read what IMDb has listed for this film, as it’s rather misleading. In fact, I’ve seen another respectable source that says otherwise in regards to what IMDb lists on how this film was shot. That source is actually the film’s DP (director of photography) Jody Lee Lipes in an interview with American Cinematographer (ASC) magazine, as you can read HERE. According to the film’s cinematographer themselves, this was shot on vintage PAL Ikegami 323 and NTSC Ikegami HL-79E cameras for the footage of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” (in 4×3), as well as on an NTSC HL-79E camera, and the Arri Alexa Mini cameras for the rest of the film.

Since the film starts up in the footage from the Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood show on the vintage cameras, as well as the footage of the miniatures used on the sets, it’s worth discussing how that footage looks first. That said, I’ll be showing you some examples below of scenes shot on those cameras before getting into discussion of the video quality for this material.

Vintage Camera Footage:

 

Now, as you can tell, this doesn’t look bad like some old VHS tape but more uncompressed and stable like the larger video cassette tapes used back in those days, long before the footage hit airwaves (TV sets). So, this looks rather good to be from this old source material with some very vibrant colors like the red of “Mister Rogers” in one of his famous sweaters, or the color of the puppets and set pieces of the TV show. The black level seems solid enough here, and the colors are accurate with flesh tones showing that as a good example once it blends over into the digital modern footage.

The rest of the film, as mentioned above, as shot digitally using the modern Arri Alexa Mini camera and its footage looks slightly different and that’s not just because of its aspect ratio (1.85:1 vs. the 1.33:1 of the vintage footage). It looks a lot different because it shows off a lot more detail, especially in facial close up shots. There’s also a solid black level here (in this footage) as well as a color palette that can at times be somewhat vibrant but much more realistic and subdued to fit the visual style to go with the dramatic genre of the subject matter. Flesh tones, once again, are accurate here and things look rather nice. I’m not sure if IMDb is right about this receiving a 2K DI (digital intermediate) master or not, but it sure seems rather crisp to only be 2K mastered – if that is indeed the case.

That all said, I have to truly say that “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” looks beautiful in its own unique way on Blu-ray Disc in 1080p HD (high definition) video. It’s certainly worth noting that this film also received a 4K UHD Blu-ray release where it received HDR (High Dynamic Range), unlike this version. For those with the proper equipment to decode that version, you might want to give it a consideration instead of this version. However, if you’re just looking for it on Blu-ray, this film delivers a pretty impressive and visually distinctive presentation in HD that is (in my opinion) worthy of a 4.5 rating for video quality.

Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)


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Audio Quality

Audio here, on the Blu-ray of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound – with a DTS 5.1 core for those not capable of fully decoding the audio format. This film actually received a DTS:X mix on the “IMAX Enhanced” 4K UHD Blu-ray, which I felt to be worth noting due to comparison. This film doesn’t really scream out, to be honest, something that needs more than a 5.1 sound mix and that’s good because of this lossless mix seeming to do the film justice.

The (mostly piano) music is what fills this 5.1 surround mix up for the most part, with its, mostly bright, beautiful melodies – some including the theme songs from the “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood” TV show. However, this is first and foremost a drama so much that it is primarily driven by the dialogue which comes almost entirely out of the center channel speaker, here in a 5.1 configuration.

The sound effects come across pretty convincing and do their job, but frankly (no spoilers) don’t expect there to be a lot of action in this film. That all being said, that doesn’t mean that because it lacks action as most films that this drama can’t drive home an impressive 5.1 lossless sound mix. In fact, quite the opposite, this Blu-ray manages to do this unique biographical drama justice in just a 5.1 mix, so I can only imagine what it must sound like in the DTS:X (with height channels) found on the 4K release. For me, though this will do, although I do admit to being curious as to how that other lossless (DTS:X) mix sounds, in comparison to this.

Simply put, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” on its debut to Blu-ray Disc earns itself a respectable, very special and fitting, 4.5 rating for audio quality.

Audio Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)


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Bonus Materials

Bonus materials on this release, are presented in HD video quality with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo.

A DVD of the film in standard definition with Dolby Digital 5.1 sound is included.

A Digital Copy of the film is included which is redeemable via Movies Anywhere, so you’ll be able to get it on a service such as iTunes, Vudu, and such. However, once you do redeem it, it is presented in HD (1080p) the same as here on the Blu-ray Disc. That seems a tad bit odd, considering the film is available in 4K on Vudu and iTunes for purchase? I just felt that it was worth mentioning to the consumer. This also includes the same extras as listed below via iTunes Extras for example.

The bonus materials are on the Blu-ray Disc include:

  • Audio Commentary with Director Marielle Heller and Director of Photography Jody Lee Lipes
  • Deleted & Extended Scenes (17:23 – HD) include a total of eight scenes. There is a “play all” function here or you can play the scenes (titled) individually.
  • “Blooper Reel” (1:38 – HD) involves a wardrobe malfunction that Tom Hanks just seems to have had quite often, time and time again, during filming a certain scene.
  • “Tom Hanks as Fred Rogers (10:29 – HD) includes focusing on what the title suggests, features some behind-the-scenes footage on set, and it offers up interviews with Marielle Heller (director), Tom Hanks (Fred Rogers), Peter Saraf (producer), Matthew Rhys (“Lloyd”), Joanne Rogers (Fred Rogers‘ widow), Bill Isler (former CEO of The Mr. Rogers Company), Susan Kelechi Watson (“Andrea”), David Newell (“Mr. McFeely”, Mister Rogers Neighborhood), Kalaadevi Ananda (makeup department head), Tony Ward (hair department head), and Arjun Bhasin (costume designer).
  • “The People Who Make A Neighborhood: The Making Of” (15:23 – HD) is pretty self-explanatory by its title and subtitle. This includes behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with Tom Hanks (Fred Rogers), Marielle Heller (director), Matthew Rhys (“Lloyd”), Susan Kelechi Watson (“Andrea”), Leah Holzer (producer), Youree Henley (producer), Chris Cooper (“Jerry”), Enrico Golantoni (Bill Isler), Bill Isler (former CEO of The Mr. Rogers Company), Maryann Plunkett (Joanne Rogers), Peter Saraf (producer), Joanne Rogers (Fred Rogers‘ widow), Frank Warninsky (electrician), Jade Healy (production designer), Greg Weimerskirch (art director), David Newell (“Mr. McFeely”, Mister Rogers Neighborhood), Martha Isler (wife of Bill Isler), Margy Whitmer (producer, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood), and Hedda Sharapan (producer, Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood).
  • “Dreaming Big, Dreaming Small: The Puppets & Miniatures” (8:37 – HD) gives us a glimpse behind the small things in the film. This includes interviews with Spencer Lott (lead puppet maker), “Daniel Striped Tiger” (actor), “Henrietta Pussycat” (actress), Susan Kelechi Watson (“Andrea”), Marielle Heller (director), Tom Hanks (Fred Rogers), Grace Townley-Lott (assistant puppet sculptor), Greg Weimerskirch (art director), Youree Henley (producer), Katrina Whalen (miniatures producer), and Peter Erickson (lead modelmaker). This really is one excellent featurette and I have to say I enjoyed it, especially as someone who grew up watching the original TV show and these puppets and style of miniatures.
  • Daniel Tiger Explains: Practice Makes Perfect” (2:42 – HD) includes some behind-the-scenes footage on set and interviews with “Daniel Striped Tiger” (actor), Tom Hanks (Fred Rogers), and Bill Isler (former CEO of The Mr. Rogers Company). Basically, here, you’ll get to see even more outtakes and blooper reel footage which is fun.

Overall, you get a decent amount of extras here with the audio commentary and six featurettes that total up (roughly) to almost exactly an hour in length. The audio commentary is something that I think the cinephile fans will appreciate the most while the featurettes prove to be something that will appeal to all audiences.

Bonus Materials Rating: 3.5 (out of 5)


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Closing Thoughts

“A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” as a film was a breath of fresh air, in so many ways, and just as the critics said it was something we needed right now as a motion picture with a message of being kind to one another. The movie also pays homage to the late Fred Rogers who brought the TV personality of “Mister Rogers” into most of our lives with Mister Rogers Neighborhood (1968-2001). The performance here from Tom Hanks in the role of Fred Rogers, a supporting actor role as it may be, certainly steals the show (so-to-speak) but that’s not to say that the performance given by lead Matthew Rhys isn’t amazing in its own right. This movie is really a great film and it’s not afraid to take some touchy, at times emotional, subject matter and put it out there.

Now, in terms of quality as far as a Blu-ray Disc goes. The video presentation here in HD may not be the absolute most impressive that viewers have ever seen on the format, but it sure as heck will probably be one they remember as unique. It takes a blend of old vintage cameras to deliver us the [4×3] footage set in the TV show and uses digital modern footage shot in higher resolution and blends to two, as well as their aspect ratios, together nicely. Some may disagree with me, as they are entitled to, but I think this holds a pretty nice video presentation. In terms of audio quality, this delivers a very solid and at times pretty darn impressive presentation in just a 5.1 mix. Sure, there’s a DTS:X mix on the 4K out there but this seems to be just enough in terms of sound, here on the Blu-ray, for me.

Last, but not really so much least here by any means, you have a set of bonus materials that total up to just almost an hour in length. They’re informative, worthwhile, and even at times funny and I totally suggest you give them all a viewing after you’ve seen the film. I, as a fan of the film, enjoyed the extras we get here and they proved to be pretty good. Overall, this release of the film on Blu-ray is definitely worth picking up. In fact, I’d go as far as to say this release is a “Recommended Dose of Kindness.”

In terms of Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
4.5 (out of 5) for audio quality
3.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials


Overall Verdict:
Recommended Dose of Kindness

Available As:

2020 Blu-ray Release


Blu-ray Disc Screenshots:

 


Packaging:

 


Blu-ray Technical Specifications:

Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Exact Runtime: 1:48:44
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (with a DTS 5.1 core), Dolby Digital 5.1
Languages: English, Czech, French, Hungarian, Portuguese, Spanish
Subtitles: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Chinese, Croatian, Czech, French, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Slovak, Slovenian, Spanish, Thai, Turkish
Disc Size: BD-50
Disc Use: 37.37GB total / 27.7GB for the film
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