I hadn't read a synopsis or seen a trailer before watching A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood, and that turned out to be the best thing. Some movies are better to know almost nothing about going in. So if you haven't seen it yet, go ahead and do so when you get the chance; it's good. And if you have, then you can go ahead and keep reading.
What I was thinking as the movie began was that one of the cool things about Mr. Rogers was that he didn't hide the fact that he was pretending. Imagination is no less wonderful when you call it make-believe. You don't need to literally believe that something that isn't real is real in order to exercise imagination and in order to play. As a child, I never liked when adults would pretend something was real that wasn't. In fact, I'm more willing to do that as an adult than I was as a child because I know that we all know it isn't real and that we're just playing.
Mr. Rogers let us in to his play. He had his little fantasy world in his backyard. And yet he was also all about showing us how things worked; I loved watching all the factory scenes showing how people made things. He wasn't trying to just to show a little slice; he was trying to portray all of the things in life that can interest us . . . and trouble us.
What is at your core? How do you work/function? What makes you want to smile or laugh? What makes you cry? What makes you afraid? Answering those questions can be the first step to understanding that there are the things that we feel, the things that we think, and the things that we do.
When we feel something negative, sometimes we just think negative things--and then all of that will beget negative actions.
But if we feel something negative, then process it with a positive perspective, then we can start to reap positive actions even when faced with negative feelings.
It's all quite simple--and yet that isn't to say that it doesn't take continual awareness and control. In the film, Joanne Rogers tells Lloyd that when people describe her husband as a saint, the word doesn't describe all of the work that he does to be the man that he is. It's a conscious and continual decision to choose to be a better person.
And as Lloyd spends more time with Mr. Rogers, he sees the rolling ball effect. He sees the positive perspective and the kind words having positive effects on other people. He knows that he himself is carrying ill feelings as a result of how he was treated as a child. And so he sees that wow, he can in turn choose to make either a positive or a negative impact with his life. He can take the negative and beget more negative, or he can do the work and reform the negative until he is putting out something positive instead. As simple and as difficult--and as rewarding as that.