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Fred Topel’s “Nebraska” Is Confused and Self-Centered

In response to Fred Topel’s 451‑word review of Nebraska on CraveOnline

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Fred Topel’s “Nebraska has a mellow tone with some mild laughs” is confusing—or perhaps just confused. With references to other films he’s seen “that year” (which one?) and a scene from a related movie (which one?), and an I-centric approach to his audiences, it’s difficult to make head or tail of this work.

Analysis crops up here and there in Mellow Tone, and for the most part it’s fairly good; Topel seems to have trouble reining himself in and avoiding those “I” and “me” statements that debase objective criticism.

(Can or should criticism be objective? Of course not. An objective approach, however, leaves the reader with the power to choose what to think rather than being told what to think.)

Certain scenes—ones his audience will likely want to discover for itself—“will be the comic highlights,” the use of future tense suggesting once again what Topel wants the reader to find. It’s a shame because the peeks readers see into the film, and the analysis behind them, are entertaining and rather perceptive.

Topel’s not a bad writer, and Mellow Tone is not a bad work, but it’s nowhere near his best and adds little to the prevailing conversation. Fans of Topel’s repertoire might find something to enjoy here. Most will look for more substantive, more entertaining, and more coherent works.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation