America's Heart and Soul
PG
Entertainment: +2
Acceptability: +3

Disney documentary. Directed by Louis Schwartzberg.

“The most joyous film going-experience I can remember.” Phil Boatwright, The Movie Reporter.

It’s Friday night, you’re looking through the entertainment section of the paper, searching for a film the whole family can enjoy. You spot the ad for American’s Heart & Soul. You’ve heard of it. Someone said, “It’s a documentary.” A documentary? Who wants to see a documentary on a Friday night? So naturally you pass onto the next advertisement. Big mistake. Huge mistake.

I turned to a friend about midway through the film and told her, “I don’t want this to end.” That’s something I have never said about a movie. Funny, moving, insightful, breathtaking, inspiring, it’s everything you want in a movie-going experience. Best of all, it’s a wonderful example of how film can unite people. Despite all the negatives said in today’s media concerning our country, this production gives a fresh, completely entertaining perspective on what makes America such a unique place and what makes Americans a special breed.

Filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg packed up his camera and hit the road, with a goal of capturing both the unparalleled beauty of the U.S. and the incomparable spirit of its people. Here you have the chance to meet ordinary Americans with extraordinary stories. Louis's gift is his ability to connect with people, honestly capturing their values, dreams, and passion. America's Heart and Soul is a celebration of a nation told through the voices of its people.

In an era of “reality” programming that generally focuses on negative traits in mankind, America’s Heart & Soul gives us a positive and powerful glimpse into the diversity of our country’s citizenry. In spite of our differences, it reveals our commonality - our innermost need to dream and have passion and compassion.

Some of the vignettes will cause your sides to ache from laugher, while others will bring a tear to your eye. Just to spotlight a very few, there’s the gospel singer who proclaims, “I’m a child of the King.” There’s the Appalachian woman who profoundly, and rather poetically, analyzes the human experience. There’s the father/son team who enter a marathon, the younger man suffering from ALS, the father professing, “I’m the legs, he’s the heart.” Then there’s the sculptor who collects junk, calling it “rusty gold” and finding love and respect through his art. There are the Salsa dancers who evidence the skill and interpretation of dance. And the blind mountain climber who has a grateful appreciation for what he has. The documentary pays tribute to our religious beliefs, paying close attention to uplifting gospel music and several visuals that spotlight the Christian faith. Other portions examine the eccentric, the inspiring and the emotional traits that make up the mutt-like pedigree that is uniquely American.

I guarantee, this is a movie you’ll hash over on the drive home. (Make sure to share this cinematic treasure with someone. Half the fun is discussing it afterwards.) The most joyous film-going experience I can remember.

PG (I found nothing objectionable or exploitive. The intent of the filmmaker is to present a positive view of what America is and what it can become.)

Preview Reviewer: Phil Boatwright
Distributor: Walt Disney

Summary
Crude Language: Few (3) times mild (hell 2, damn 1)
Obscene Language: None
Profanity: Few (3) times moderate (MG 1, G 2,)
Violence: None
Sexual Intercourse: None
Nudity: None
Homosexual Conduct: None
Sexually Suggestive Action/Dialog: Several times mild (in a dance competition, men and women dance together in close positions and women wear tight clothing all in one segment of the documentary)
Drug Abuse: Once mild (aspects of running a vineyard are discussed and viewed)
Other: Several appropriate uses of Gods name (if Jesus came back, Gods glory, if you believe in God, Jesus changed the water to wine, if God blesses me); Native Americans share the belief that the eagle takes their spirits to their ancestors; a man speculates on what kind of car Jesus would want to drive; a pastor says we shouldnt try to get people to go to Heaven or to Hell and that we should try to get them to live together in peace on Earth; a lady gives God the credit for helping her when her family was destitute; lady leads church and choir in praises songs to God that glorify the Holy Spirit and Jesus Christ)
Running Time: 86 minutes
Intended Audience: Adults

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