benschmidt’s review published on Letterboxd:
The process of excavating the reality of your parents can be illuminating, revealing, disappointing, anticlimactic. You remove the dirt of myth, the soil of legend, to find the person hidden beneath the persona of Dad or Mom. Why'd you guys get married? I thought, what the hell. Did you discuss having kids? We screwed until we did, plus she was Catholic, so .... Did you ever regret it? It could have been worse. We're all a set of idealisms and practicalities.
Payne's movie is set in the wasteland of post-Recession America, but it's also set amidst the wreckage of Bruce Dern's life, Will Forte as the navigator trying to make sense of the pieces. There's the woman who almost won his father's heart who runs the local newspaper, a slight twist of fate that impacts the existence of countless people. The man who stole his compressor. The money owed, or not owed, to various family members. The past continues to come back as this warped, confused, messy affair. "Did you ever want to be a farmer like your dad?" .... "I don't remember .... It doesn't matter." Broke me.
I love by the end how Forte is willing to indulge his father. You get into this when your parent's start to lose their grip. It's easier to go along with the bullshit. All he wanted was a truck and a compressor. Just get those and the whole affair is settled. Is it condescending to the Midwest? Have you been to the Midwest? A bunch of male boomers quietly and without expression watching a football game is the least you could do to them.