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Thursday, July 1, 2004

Movie: America's Heart & Soul

Posted on Thu, Jul 1, 2004 at 4:00 AM

***
Our Rating: 3.00

Disney is pushing this flag-waving documentary as optimistic counterprogramming to its discarded Fahrenheit 9/11. Given the latter film's jaw-dropping opening-weekend take, it looks as if the mouse is once again riding the wrong horse. Essentially a theatrical cousin to one of Tomorrowland's old wide-screen travelogues, America's Heart & Soul makes brief, almost perfunctory visits to 26 Americans whose lifestyles and/or hobbies were deemed remarkable by filmmaker Louis Schwartzberg. An aging cowboy's admission that he fought and conquered alcoholism raises hopes that the movie will dig deeper than expected, but the subsequent segments mostly shy away from harsh realities in favor of picturesque fancy. Often, the results are compelling: A scene of cliff dancers going through their routines thumbs its nose at vertigo. But there's no getting around the realization that Schwartzberg's America is overwhelmingly white and ruled by the sugary platitude that our cherished freedom gives every one of us equal opportunity to do whatever we set our minds to. You know, like becoming president even though the other guy got more votes. Whoops! Wrong movie!

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