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Overall Rating
1.3

Awesome: 0%
Worth A Look: 0%
Average: 0%
Pretty Bad: 30%
Total Crap70%

1 review, 4 user ratings


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Heart of America
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by Scott Weinberg

"It's as if Larry Clark directed an episode of Boston Public."
1 stars

Mr. Uwe Boll has his sights set on becoming the king of amazingly bad video game movies. Already he's unleashed "House of the Dead" and "Alone in the Dark" to universal groans and the guy already has three or four more Xbox movies he's bound to deliver. And after seeing Mr. Boll's "Heart of America," I think I now know why. Imagine the Columbine tragedy as translated into coloring book form, and you're halfway to understanding how hilariously bad and amazingly tacky this flick truly is.

There have been several Columbine-inspired dramas, most notably Paul Ryan's Home Room and Gus Van Sant's Elephant. These were movies that probed ugly issues, raised sticky questions and offered no easy answers. Neither of these films were criticized for exploiting the high school tragedies they were dramatizing. Uwe Boll's Heart of America is the seamiest sort of also-ran, a smug and obvious and paper-thin little tract. This is a movie that leers and panders at the basest tabloid level, and only five full minutes of the moronic thing will indicate just how much Mr. Boll (who has lived in Germany for all of his natural life) knows about middle-America teenagers - and that's nothing.

One could overlook the fact that Heart of America is nothing more than a blatant ripoff of the two aforementioned films, were it not for the vacant smugness that permeates every frame of celluloid. (Which, by the way, sat on the shelf for over two years before earning a quiet direct-to-video release.) The American teenagers in Mr. Boll's brain come in two distinct varieties: weak, clueless sheep and viciously hateful bastards. Guess which group outnumbers the other by a ratio of 10 to 1.

What's most disconcerting about Heart of America is that the characters are painted in such stupidly broad brush strokes...it's like a Peanuts cartoon with profanity and a few guns at the end. The bullies are depicted as mindlessly evil; the geeks are noble little trolls. So basically we're given an action movie set-up for a movie that hopes you'll consider it earnest and thought-provoking and challenging. Puh-leeze. Am I honestly meant to sit here and cheer as Quivering Geek #2 finally drills a hole into the chest of Abominable Bully #3? I have to sit here, having just watched the film, and respond YES. Uwe and screenwriter Robert Klein not only plagiarized hand over fist from Home Room and Elephant; I'd bet money they also did it with the mute button on.

Our main story line plays out like a simple math problem: bullies + geeks + time = a shooting spree. Brilliant insight there. Thrown in to pad the running time (and to include virtually every single stereotype under the sun) are a series of ugly little after-school-special subplots. Aw, look. Sweet Sally's boyfriend turned out to be a philandering asshole. What's that? Janey's pregnant and Bobby wants to stand by her side? Excellent. Poor litttle Timmy gets force-fed dog doo on his way home from school and then his drunken Papa just sneers and laughs. Aww, Timmy. (It sure doesn't help that Timmy's papa is Clint Howard!) Throw all these one-note ciphers into a pot and you just know someone's getting shot before it's all over. Because that's the only reason Heart of America even exists: to let you watch the teenagers - who deserve it - get shot. And in this version the good guys and bad guys are clearly delineated so we the viewer can feel OK with the world. Gee, thanks Uwe. Friday the 13th Part 3 has more class.

Do we blame the parents? The school system? The media? The guy who lingers in the school hallways all day (?!?) selling drugs? Mommy with a job? Clint Howard? WHO is to blame here? Bah, who cares, right? Long as we have cardboard melodrama, a paint-by-numbers crescendo of antagonism, and a oozing little spurt of vengeance at the end! Yeah, that's the stuff. Oh, but don't forget to include (literally) four minutes of voice-over "teen death stats" that we can flash up just prior to the end credits. Those little newspaper clippings really add some gravity to an exploitation movie that leers over the extended gang-rape of a retarded girl. Yeah, real depth there.

The acting ranges from fairly atrocious to better than the material deserves. Michael Pare (a.k.a. the less expensive version of Aidan Quinn) pops up as a stern writing teacher who learns the err of his ways perhaps just a bit too late. Patrick Muldoon drops by to deliver some flaccid comic relief to a film that really doesn't want it...and who'd honestly buy Jurgen Prochnow as the prinicipal of an Oregon high school? Apparently the director does. Several of the younger performers acquit themselves quite well; one hopes the stink of this film washes off with no problem.

It's Death Wish Goes to Riverdale. And I don't mean that in a fun way. The listless plot divergences finally meet up on the last day of school. And violence is afoot. Sorry, Uwe, but teen-on-teen violence is, like, soooooo 2001. Maybe your next non-Playstation movie can be about Janet Jackson's errant boob. Now there's something timely you can sell to the video stores!

B and C-level moviemakers will leech on to whatever proves most profitable in the American heartland. Sometime it's slasher flicks, sometimes it's superheroes, sometimes it's movies about how bloody Jesus was when he died. This time is just happened to be the non-fiction slaughter of several innocent children. Feels pretty damn ghoulish to me, Mr. Boll. Perhaps "The Sonic Hedgehog Movie" really is your niche. Cuz drama sure isn't.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=11339&reviewer=128
originally posted: 12/09/04 21:06:55
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User Comments

11/21/08 Jeff Wilder Uwe Boll. The director for people who don't get Michael Bay. 2 stars
7/02/05 Sugarfoot First off who cast Pare and Prochnow as principal/ teacher 2 stars
6/02/05 ALBERT ALMOST TOTAL CRA 2 stars
12/12/04 Naka FUCK YOU, UWE BOLL. This man needs to be stopped. NOW. 1 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  07-Dec-2004 (R)
  DVD: 07-Dec-2004

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