America's Heart and Soul | Chicago Reader

America's Heart and Soul

Like an 86-minute Pepsi commercial, this superslick Disney documentary by Louis Schwartzberg crisscrosses the continent to profile various dynamic individuals—from a Colorado horse wrangler to a Manhattan bike messenger to a Texas oil-fire fighter to a Mississippi gospel singer—and ends with a shot of the Statue of Liberty surrounded by bursting fireworks. Many of the subjects are fascinating (a junk sculptor, an aerobatic flier, a blind mountain climber, a troupe of dancers who perform while hanging off cliffs), but none gets more than a few minutes before Schwartzberg cuts to his next oddball character. This is supposed to be a testament to the nation's diversity, but it's so complacent that you'd never imagine said diversity is one of the greatest social challenges of the new century.


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