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Ethan Alter Produces Payne & the Lame in “All Aboard the Old Coot Express”

In response to Ethan Alter’s 1138‑word review of Nebraska on Television Without Pity

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The bad news: Ethan Alter is the latest critic to go with the “cantankerous old coot” line to describe Bruce Dern’s Woody, however the good news is that “Nebraska: All Aboard The Old Coot Express” is a fantastic review. Critics: please Google “Nebraska Cantankerous Old Coot” to see the extreme use of the phrase.

Ethan Alter writes a smart review with Old Coot Express. He pays special attention to the specifics of the film, but also makes sharp connections to the past works of Alexander Payne. One will be pleased by the introduction in which the intellectual critic makes a comparison to About Schmidt, and some readers will surely tilt their head and say “Hmm.” Classic Alter.

The critic gets down to business after a couple rich paragraphs of plot summary. The critic once again returns to Payne, and contemplates the elitist title that is often used to describe the director. Alter conveys how this viewpoint applies to the film, and what the director does to bring a sense of comedic truth to his homeland of Nebraska.

The main flaw of Old Coot Express is Alter’s failure to address the performance of Bruce Dern (despite saying plenty about Woody). Some readers may feel satisfied, but others will certainly desire to know what Dern does to truly become the character. Will Forte’s performance is briefly touched on, but surprisingly little is said about old man Dern. Overall, the work is outstanding, and Alter does a fine job of looking beyond the basics.

Old Coot Express is a smart and tightly-structured piece of work.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation