The New York Times, for instance, calls it a “saccharine trifle.” The Detroit News says it’s as “simple-minded, heavy-handed and as subtle as a gorilla in a tutu.” Desson Thomson of The Washington Post tried a different tack. His review is titled “As Time Creeps By,” and it begins: “When you know, practically from the beginning, what’s going to happen at the end of a movie, what do you do with your time in between? Offer to buy everyone in the theater popcorn while you sit this thing out? Check cell phone messages? Catch up on lost sleep?” Which prompts me to ask: Did he wander into the wrong theater? Everyone I know who has seen the movie was completely swept up in the mystery and brilliance of this marvelous film. (READER NOTE: Usually, when The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Detroit News trash a moral movie, it’s code that you should go see it.)
Contrast these malicious reviews with others, and you see how determined some are to kill this life-changing film. The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel’s Mack Bates, for example, wrote: “This is, first and foremost, an actors’ showcase, and the entire ensemble delivers,” and Roger Ebert said it’s a “heart-tugger with the confidence not to tug too hard.”
The reviewer for The New York Times, interestingly, makes some surprising admissions in his negative account -- noting, for example, that “Bella” has a “bear-hugging embrace of sweetness and light” and that “the response to it suggests how desperate some people are for an urban fairy tale with a happy ending.” The response he refers to, of course, is the popularity of this magical film. It’s sad that this professional film critic has become so numbed by the drivel and cultural sewage produced en masse by the entertainment industry that he doesn't understand average Americans are crying out for media that offers “sweetness,” “light” and happy endings.
That’s why we need to vote with our feet -- and fill every seat of every showing of “Bella” this weekend. Go to bellathemovie.com/theater/ and see where it’s playing in your area, and take as many people as you can. In fact, you can do even more: Go to helpbella.com and “adopt” a theater as a fundraiser or event. With enough word of mouth, we might even be able to make it the top film going into the Thanksgiving weekend.
Don’t wait for the DVD, folks (although you should buy that, too, when it comes out). Go to see “Bella” on the big screen this weekend. Let’s get America to sit up and take notice.