Joe Bell Trailer

After premiering at the 2020 Toronto International Film Festival, the anti-bullying drama Joe Bell is finally coming to theaters this year. Once titled Good Joe Bell, the movie tells the true story of Oregonian father Joe Bell (Mark Wahlberg) ,who pays tribute to his gay teenage son Jadin (Reid Miller) by embarking on a self-reflective walk across America to speak his heart to heartland citizens about the real and terrifying costs of bullying. Watch the Joe Bell trailer below.

Joe Bell Trailer

Jadin Bell was one of many kids who faced brutal homophobia at school. Unfortunately, his situation at home didn’t offer much reprieve either. His father is only begrudgingly tolerant of his son’s lifestyle and he never let him know that he truly accepted him before it was too late – Jadin killed himself when he just couldn’t take the bullying anymore.

Nearly broken by guilt and regret, Joe picks himself up and decides to embark on a walk across America to reach out to school groups, communities, and anyone who will listen about the dangers of bullying. Tragically, if you heard this true story when it made headlines back in 2013, you know this part of the story doesn’t have a happy ending either.

Joe Bell Trailer

Is Mark Wahlberg the Right Choice for This Movie?

It’s a little perplexing that the responsibility of stopping bullying has been placed on the shoulders of Mark Wahlberg, an actor who has a history of racially motivated hate crimes in his past. Obviously people can change and redeem themselves, but it still seems rather counterintuitive when they could have cast literally anybody else in the role.

Plus, we can’t help but notice that this movie feels like it’s arriving long after this issue should have been addressed on the big screen, especially since the true story unfolded in 2013. In our review from TIFF last year, Marshall Shaffer wrote:

“In 2020, there’s simply no need to need to waste time fixating so obsessively on the trauma faced by LGBTQ+ kids. It’s not necessary to prove the existence of the issue nor to validate the struggles they must endure simply for being who they are. The time would be better spent further exploring the personality and humanity of Joe’s gay son Jadin (Reid Miller) rather than defining him so much by the abuse that other people foist onto him. Thankfully, the film does allow for a few moments of joy to break through for Jadin. Yet it’s not enough to save his story from such unfortunately rote familiarity.”

Then again, maybe Mark Wahlberg is the right person for this role because the image he presents might bring in audiences who otherwise wouldn’t so receptive to a message that needs to be heard, even if it feels a little late. There are people out there who don’t want to be preached at, but who might actually have their minds changed by this film. Some folks just need to have their perspective changed in different ways at the right time.

Joe Bell is directed by Reinaldo Marcus Green (Monsters and Men) with a script by Brokeback Mountain scribes Diana Ossana & Larry McMurtry. The cast also includes Connie Britton, Gary Sinise, and more. Here’s the official synopsis:

Joe Bell is based on the powerful true story of a small town, working class father (Mark Wahlberg) who embarks on a solo walk across the United States to crusade against bullying after his gay teenage son, Jadin (Reid Miller) is tormented in high school. Joe makes his way along the breathtaking expanse heading from Oregon to New York City, delivering a simple message of tolerance from a father’s perspective, hoping to reach those who may be open to hearing it from someone like themselves. Confronting many hardships, Joe ultimately shows us all that you can make a difference if you just take it one step at a time.

Joe Bell arrives in theaters on July 23, 2021.

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