The 10-Run Rule: America's Heart and Soul
There's something in baseball called the 10-Run rule. Essentially it is a mercy rule designed to get off the field before a complete disaster ensues. The pros don't use it but in high school and college it came into the play quite frequently. My senior year of high school our team went 0-21. That's right! We didn't win a single game and most of the games were complete blowouts brought to a merciful conclusion by the blessed 10-run rule.
Why can't the movies have something like that? When Louis Schwartzberg began shooting his documentary five years ago, Michael Moore hadn't even heard of George W. Bush. He was still safely tucked away down here in Texas. When Disney set the release date for Schwartzberg's film and agreed to put in 98 theatres nationwide, Moore hadn't even finished Fahrenheit 9/11. When Moore's politically driven documentary hit theatres it completely crushed Schwartzberg's non-political agenda. And, adding insult to injury, Moore attacked Disney and by extension America's Heart and Soul, and the media quickly labeled it as the conservative alternative to 9/11, which doesn't seem to be the case at all. Though I have yet to see either film it is not too difficult to see what's going on here.
If anything, America's Heart and Soul promises optimism, an optimism never present in any Michael Moore film. (Let's face it, Moore is a pessimist, all his films thrive on pessimism, and historically that's why I have loved his films.)
Optimism is the opposite of pessimism, but optimism is not the antonym of liberalism... or conservatism... or whatever "ism" folks cling to in their beliefs. Optimism is not a political point of view, it is a point of view about living. It is a distinct way of approaching life and living it to its fullest.
To politicize America's Heart and Soul renders a huge disservice taking away from what its director intended. But lets be honest here--pessimism sells and that's probably why Fahrenheit 9/11 is running America's Heart and Soul right out of the game. "If it bleeds it leads," is the mantra of every news organization from coast to coast and you can bet people are more interested in watching dirt than they are about seeing something spiritually uplifting. If people were altogether intested about being built up spiritually, I'd be preaching to packed house every Sunday. But I'm not. And America's not really into reality unless it's a little dirty. (How else do you explain the success of The Simple Life?)
Personally, I can't wait to get a look at America's Heart and Soul because it promises to be a beautiful film, pleasing to the eye and good for the soul. Why don't we just put the mercy rule into effect and realize that Moore's flick and Schwartzberg's film have nothing to do with one another? Maybe that way both films can stand on their own merit. And then maybe America's Heart and Soul could finally make it a theatre near me.