Photo: Roadside Attractions

If you are like me and didn’t know the true story of Joe Bell, then I urge you to not Google it and watch the movie blind. I would also recommend that you watch “Joe Bell” with a box of Kleenex, as you will need it all the way through, and especially around 40 minutes in and at the very end of the movie. The other thing I highly recommend, is that “Joe Bell” is shown as a mandatory movie to all freshman in high school, with a question-and-answer session to follow.

From filmmaker Reinaldo Marcus Green (“Monsters and Men”), along with the Academy Award-winning writing team behind “Brokeback Mountain” (Diana Ossana & Larry McMurtry) and Academy Award nominee Mark Wahlberg, “Joe Bell” tells the intimate and emotional true story of an Oregonian father who pays tribute to his gay teenage son, Jadin, embarking on a self-reflective walk across America from Oregon to New York to speak out against bullying. Joe speaks to groups at high schools and other places across the country, advocates for acceptance and love, and talks about parents embracing their children’s differences. It becomes clear early in the film that Joe’s journey is also a way for him to understand his son and learn to forgive himself.

Mark Wahlberg probably gives the best performance of his career, but unfortunately he is outshined by Reid Miller who plays Jadin in a breakout role that is sure to catapult him into super stardom. “Joe Bell” is at its best when Mark and Reid share the screen together. Having said that, Miller also has incredible chemistry with the rest of the cast as well, including Connie Britton who plays his mom, Lola, and Maxwell Jenkins who plays his younger brother, Joseph.

Jadin Bell was the 15-year-old whose physical and online persecution by his jock classmates prompted the title character’s walk across America to call for change. Jadin was a teenager with a lot of courage who knows exactly who he was and refuses to apologize for it. He came “Out” in rural America where the possibility of him being accepted for who he was, was stacked against him.  Jadin even joined the cheerleading squad. Unfortunately, it is his resilience and self-acceptance that his bullies sought to end!

“Joe Bell” opened last weekend and is playing in South Florida at:

Miami: CMX Dolphin Cinema 19 Miami, AMC Aventura 24, Silverspot Miami at Met Square Cinemas Miami, Sunset Place 24

Fort Lauderdale: Paradise 24 Davie, Gateway Cinema, Pompano Beach 18

West Palm Beach: Palace 20 Boca Raton, Movies of Lake Worth, Cinepolis Jupiter 14 Jupiter, CMX Downtown at the Mall Gardens Palm 16 Palm Beach Gardens, St Lucie 14 – Port St Lucie, Indian River 24- Vero Beach

I urge everyone to see this powerful movie!