Australian Council on Children and the Media

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

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Not suitable under 12; parental guidance to 13 (Adult themes and disturbing scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • a review of A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 27 January 2020.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 12 Not suitable due to adult themes and disturbing scenes.
Children aged 12–13 Parental guidance recommended due to adult themes and disturbing scenes.
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
Classification: PG
Consumer advice lines: Mild themes, violence and coarse language
Length 109 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is based on an article written by journalist Tom Junod, entitled, Can You Say Hello?in Esquire Magazine in 1998. Junod’s character is known as Lloyd Vogel (Matthew Rhys), a hard-bitten and cynical journalist, who gets the job of writing an article about the much loved children’s TV presenter, ‘Mr Rogers’. Lloyd is certain that there’s a hard-nosed businessman behind the kindly persona known to the world, so is taken aback to find Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) is the same innocent, almost-childlike, likeable person both off and on screen.

Lloyd probes to find a chink in Fred’s armour but increasingly finds himself on the other side of the interviewing process. Fred, in his own inimitable way, slowly extracts from Lloyd the source of his inner rage which goes back to when his mother died and he was only a child. His anger is directed towards his father, Jerry (Chris Cooper), who left him and his sister Lorraine (Tammy Blanchard) while their mother was sick and dying. Jerry has tried to come back into Lloyd’s life after a long absence, and Lloyd wants nothing to do with him. Fred impresses on Lloyd that holding on to his anger not only damages his father but also is damaging to himself. Lloyd and Fred end up becoming the best of unlikely friends.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Father/Son relationships; Family breakdowns; Death and dying; Forgiveness.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is some violence in this movie including:

  • Jerry and Lloyd get into a fight at Lorraine’s wedding. Lloyd ends up with a bloodied nose.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • A sick child is seen talking to Fred Rogers. The child has a tube in his nose which is connected to an oxygen tank.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • Images of Lloyd’s memory of his mother dying in the hospital are shown. He tells Jerry that she screamed and screamed while she was dying – it wasn’t peaceful at all. Jerry then collapses.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Lloyd talks to Fred about why his children’s TV program discusses heavy subjects such as death, divorce and war. Fred says that all subjects that relate to human life should be talked about with children in a way they can understand. He wants to teach them ways to deal with their feelings without hurting themselves or anyone else.
  • Jerry is shown in the hospital – he is dying.
  • Jerry’s partner Dorothy is seen crying.
  • Lloyd dreams he sees his mother again in the hospital and she tells him she doesn’t need his anger. In his dream Lloyd cries and collapses on the floor.
  • Jerry eventually dies and a funeral is held for him.

Over thirteeninfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

Nothing further of concern.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Jerry refers to Lloyd’s wife Andrea (a public attorney lawyer) as “Doll”.
  • Lloyd talks about Jerry sleeping around while his wife (Lloyd’s mother) was dying.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • Lloyd and his wife are seen talking in bed together. Lloyd is naked from the top up. No sexual activity is happening.
  • Lloyd and his wife kiss occasionally.

Use of substances

There is some use of substances in this movie, including:

  • Drinking of alcohol at various venues: a wedding reception, at home.
  • Jerry gets drunk at the wedding reception.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Dammit
  • Oh God
  • Freaking
  • Oh my God
  • Holy crap
  • Jerks
  • Hell.

In a nutshell

A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a wonderful movie initially set in Mr Rogers’ children’s TV set, which looks like the Australian version of Play School. It is positive, uplifting and heart-warming. Mr Rogers (so well played by Tom Hanks) was an inspirational man who exuded love, compassion and a belief in children just being themselves. While there is nothing particularly scary in this movie, it does cover some disturbing themes and complex psychological problems which young children are unlikely to understand. It is therefore more suitable for families with older children.

The main messages from this movie are that children should be accepted for who they are, not what they might become and that parents need to remember what it was like to be a child.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Positive ways to deal with your feelings without hurting yourself or anyone else.
  • Forgiveness and redemption.
  • Love.
  • Compassion.
  • Kindness.
  • Inclusivity.
  • Remembering the child within.
  • Treating all people with respect, children included.
  • Resilience.
  • Hope.
  • Helping children believe that they are all special and unique.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • Why Lloyd was so angry with his father. Is it understandable for him to feel this way? Has it helped him in his life or has it restrained him and stopped him from personal growth?

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