'Joe Bell' gave Mark Wahlberg a parenting wake-up call, taught him to 'loosen the reins'

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USA TODAY 22 July, 2021 - 09:01am 17 views

When does Joe Bell come out?

Mark Wahlberg, left, and Gary Sinise star in “Joe Bell,” which will release in theaters Friday, July 23, 2021. The best scene in the film is a conversation near the end between Sinise and Wahlberg, two fathers of gay sons, and the epiphany that occurs during their talk. Galveston County Daily News'Joe Bell' gives powerful message but falls flat in execution

‘Joe Bell’ Review: Far Trek

The New York Times 22 July, 2021 - 06:00am

Mark Wahlberg plays a bereaved father on a campaign against bullying in this dreary drama.

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By and large, audiences don’t go to the movies to watch unprepossessing people engage in tedious pursuits — however noble or well-intentioned. And I have seen few cinematic sights more tedious this year than Mark Wahlberg trudging across America as the title character of “Joe Bell,” a droopy drama with its feet on the blacktop and its heart set on redemption.

Earnestly directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green, the movie dramatizes the true story of Joe, an Oregon mill worker who decides to walk toward New York City in honor of his gay son, Jadin (Reid Miller). Joe’s mission is to raise awareness about the perils of bullying, which Jadin, 15, endured daily at the hands of cruel classmates before ending his own life. As presented here, though (the screenplay is by Diana Ossana and Larry McMurtry), the father’s real mission is atonement.

Flashbacks reveal Joe to be a volatile, conservative father who’s displeased by Jadin’s orientation — and his lone-male visibility on the cheerleading squad — without being openly homophobic. (He’s also the kind of man who buys a big-screen TV while his patient wife — played by a deglamorized Connie Britton — waits for a new washing machine.) Once Joe is on the road, however, the movie turns Jadin into a sentimental contrivance, a tool to illustrate his father’s transformation from short-fused insensitive to self-punishing penitent.

Grim and well-acted, “Joe Bell” is the story of a martyr. Joe’s punishing, monthslong trek, chronicled on Facebook and punctuated by interactions with bigots and sympathizers, is riddled with down-home didacticism.

“It’s hard to stand strong in places where there are more churches than gays,” one stranger tells Joe in a movie that appears far less interested in Jadin’s suffering than his father’s.

Mark Wahlberg Explains Why He Watches His Kids' Games From the Car

Entertainment Tonight 21 July, 2021 - 06:19pm

While speaking to ET about his new movie, Joe Bell, the 50-year-old actor revealed that he's trying his best to give his children a normal life. Wahlberg shares four kids -- Ella, 17, Michael, 15, Brendan, 12, and Grace, 11 -- with wife Rhea Durham.

"Me being in the public eye, there are pros to that, but there's a lot of cons," he explained. "My kids wanna have their own identity, you know? I'm not allowed to get out of the car at football practice or a game. I gotta sit in the car and watch."

"At first I took it personally, because I wanna be there to support them, but supporting them is by making them feel comfortable in what they're doing and them having their own identity too," he continued. "It's very difficult." 

Wahlberg also plays a father onscreen in his latest movie, Joe Bell, which hits theaters Friday. It's a true story about a father who walked across America to speak out after his son, Jadin Bell (Reid Miller), was bullied for being gay.

"There's nothing more heartbreaking than somebody who's being bullied or picked on, or not accepted for who they are," Wahlberg said. "And that's gotta start in the home, I think. Making sure that you are talking to your kids, communicating with them, and first and foremost they understand that you love them unconditionally. You cheer for them and support them for being who they are, but they have to be able to communicate."

"In the day and age that we're living in now, where there's so much divide, people need to love and support each other," he added. "The only way that people are gonna come together is through love and understanding."

Connie Britton, who co-stars as Wahlberg's on-screen wife, Lola Bella, in the film, told ET that this is a movie all "about redemption."

"It's such a touching tragic story, but also one that we can really learn from," she explained. "It's because of Mark that the movie got made, and he brought such a passion to it. I think this felt like a very personal choice for him to do this movie, and his passion and his heartfulness was infectious."

"I felt it in every scene that we played together, which made it a joy for me," she continued. "He was so generous as an actor, but also as a producer in terms of just, we all wanted to dig in. We all wanted to know this family. So it really brought those scenes to life in a great way."

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‘Joe Bell’ takes personal look at extremely large issues

KGET 17 21 July, 2021 - 12:46pm

(KGET) — “Joe Bell” is based on the true story of the unimaginable horrible consequences that are the manifestation of relentless bullying. The production would have been strong if it had focused on such hot-button issues such as the lack of training in schools to handle such issues. But, director Reinaldo Marcus Green opted to focus more on the personal story than the political elements.

That approach makes for a movie that is a quiet and deeply meaningful story of love and loss. It’s made all the more powerful by the fact it is based on a true story. Even if you know the story, Green’s approach makes it a powerful offering.

This film is an emotional abyss that reveals in a slow – but determined way – how a man tries to deal with a world that brought so much pain and sorrow to his son who became the target of extreme bullying in his small hometown after revealing he is gay.

Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) is an Oregon father who sets out to walk across the United States to reach New York as a way of paying tribute to his son. It is Bell’s intention to draw attention to bullying as he stops in small towns speaking to any groups who will listen to his story.

Although the trip was real, the film uses Bell’s long walk as a metaphor to show the journey the grieving father must take to find his own peace. He says this is a trek for his son but in reality is the only way he can face the demons of hatred that have taken over his life.

Green shows great patience with the film allowing scenes to slowly unfold so that the emotional moments are not big slaps in the face but a series of heart-touching revelations. It helps that the script comes from Diana Ossan and Larry McMurtry – the Academy Award-winning writing team behind “Brokeback Mountain.” They again show a great skill in keeping the focus on the very human elements of the story.

Wahlberg is not the greatest of actors but he is a solid selection for this role as he does come across as an everyman.  What makes him better is the supporting cast that includes the always incredible Connie Britton as Bell’s wife and Gary Sinise as a small-town sheriff who can relate to Bell’s journey.

Even in scenes where the characters played by Wahlberg and Britton speak on the phone, Britton gives each discussion the emotional boost it needs just when the film seems to be losing a step. She is one of a handful of actors who make a production better just by being part of the cast.

His strongest work comes in the scenes where Bell and his son, Jadin (Reid Miller), spend time together. Miller plays each scene with great energy that counterbalances the more subdued work by Wahlberg. It is very easy to believe they are a father and son who are looking for some answers to the massive questions in their lives.

Green had to be very careful here. He takes some liberties with the real story but never to the point that his two central figures become caricatures. The director does brush up against the melodramatic but never crosses the line. He accomplishes this by never getting away from the very key issues surrounding the father and son.

The most surprising thing in regards to “Joe Bell” is that it is anything but your typical summer movie. Traditionally, the films that hit local theaters during the summer are filled with fast action, big explosions and mayhem. You won’t find any of that in “Joe Bell.”

What the film does is use a very heart-breaking and emotionally devastating story to look at the price of pain. Every action by the characters is grounded in such a way audience members should be able to relate with ease. It is not designed to create shouting matches about major issues but to spark conversations about the personal challenges of life.  

That all goes to make “Joe Bell” very different from a typical summer movie. But, in many ways, it is more explosive than any popcorn film opening in the summer months.

“Joe Bell” will be in theaters starting July 23.

Cast: Mark Wahlberg, Connie Britton, Reid Miller, Gary Sinise.

Director: Reinaldo Marcus Green

Rated: R for language, disturbing material

Running time: 94 minutes.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) -- The Blessing Corner will host it Annual Back2School Fun Day next month, with free haircut vouchers, dental hygiene kits, household cleaning items, immunizations and a new backpack with school supplies.

The event is scheduled from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Friday, Aug. 6. There will be food, games, face painting and a "Foamin' Fun cool down activity," organizers said in a news release.

(7/21): BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Dutch Bros Coffee on California Avenue has temporarily closed after an employee tested positive for COVID-19, according to a company representative.

Caltrans said the highway is closed from Airport Drive to F Street in both directions. The westbound lanes are expected to reopen at around 9:30 a.m. There is no estimate at this time for when the eastbound lanes will be reopened, but Caltrans expects them to be closed through the afternoon.

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