Joe Bell

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green
Year Released: 2020
Rating: 1.0

A blue-collar worker from Oregon, Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg), sets off on a quixotic trek across the United States - on foot! - to bring the message of tolerance and empathy to the masses after his son Jadin (Reid Miller) commits suicide after getting bullied for being gay.  The true story behind this is tragic and pitiable - Mr. Bell was hit by a truck in 2013 and killed while on his journey - but the presentation here is both Pure Fantasy and Liberal Bait (all in one package!): at the beginning, it lets you think Jadin's out walking with his Father (not unlike The Sixth Sense) before popping that bubble ... and then it sets up some gross scenes of homophobia to get your Righteous Anger all stirred up (when it needs some "color," someone casually throws out a homophobic slur), and of course the shower scene with Jadin being basically assaulted in the boys' locker room is ludicrously embellished (where were the adults?).  In the end, it becomes less about a boy's struggle with his own sexual identity and more about a father's making peace with his son's fate ... and while I think it has decent intentions, someone should have re-considered how to approach the material.