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Proud American
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Reviewed on 2008-09-11
Received[3]  out of 4 stars
GenreDocumentary / Drama
'Proud American' makes us appreciate U.S.

It’s about time somebody stepped up and showed us how great it is to be living in a land where freedom, opportunity and the pursuit of happiness reign supreme.

Writer, director and producer Fred Ashman utilizes his industrial film background in this patriotic tribute.

It feels like a giant infomercial that makes you appreciate what we too often take for granted. He deserves a pat on the back and our gratitude for reminding us of our rich heritage and the strong ties that bind us together.

The movie opens with breathtaking aerial panoramas and a stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful.” Russian immigrant Yakov Smirnoff gets things started from Branson, Mo., doing his standup comedy routine. His favorite line – “What a country” – is a perfect overall description of this movie, which is equal parts documentary and drama.

The touching emotional moments in a series of re-enactments are based on true stories of everyday residents.

The first one involves Dawn, a Vietnamese immigrant, who learned to read, write and speak English in high school and persevered with a positive attitude. This segment is about personal responsibility and the entrepreneurial spirit.

Several small family businesses are mentioned, including Walton’s 5 & 10 store in Bentonville, Ark.

The next story deals with religious tolerance as a neighborhood rallies around a Jewish family whose home is vandalized and their Hanukkah menorah in the front window is destroyed.

Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have A Dream” sermon leads into a story about Curtis, a ghetto kid from Chicago. Through sheer determination, he stayed in school, studied hard and pursued his dream of becoming a doctor.

Freedom comes with a price, and the movie visits many memorials across the country honoring the brave soldiers who made the supreme sacrifice.

Another moving segment involves Carlos, who emigrated from Brazil. He worked his way up from washing dishes to manager at an Italian restaurant. He then became a citizen and joined the Navy Seals. After being shot in both legs during hostilities in Panama, he had to adjust to being in a wheelchair. Since the word “quit” was never in his vocabulary, he became a world triathlon record holder for the physically challenged division. His positive attitude helps other disabled people by raising awareness.

This segues into showing that Americans are the most generous human beings on the planet by raising money through races and marathons for charities and good causes they believe in.

The movie is full of beautiful sights and sounds. The photography is outstanding and the songs are inspirational. The closing musical number has the same title as the movie.

This is a wholesome viewing experience stressing positive values for families to share and discuss. The movie spans the country, zooming in on familiar sightseeing landmarks in Washington, D.C., Vail, San Diego, Philadelphia, Boston, New York City, Arlington, Annapolis, Albuquerque and St. Louis.

Recognizable stars involved include Ken Howard (“The White Shadow” and “Crossing Jordan”), James B. Sikking (“Hill Street Blues” and “Doogie Howser, M.D.”) and Grant Goodeve (“Eight Is Enough”).

This movie is dedicated to the ideals of a free society. It should bring you to your feet with resounding applause at the conclusion. It will also rekindle newfound pride next time you salute the flag or sing the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

Another incentive for supporting the film is that up to $5 million of the profits are pledged to charity with the primary beneficiaries being the National Military Family Association and the Boys & Girls Club of America.

Review By:
Keith Cohen, "The Movie Guy"


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