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Joe Williams Writes of Love, Marriage and the Obvious in “Son Change”

In response to Joe Williams’s 498‑word review of Nebraska on St. Louis Post-Dispatch

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Joe Williams has created a warm and compelling piece with “Estranged father and son change course in Nebraska.” It’s a heartfelt review, unfortunately Williams doesn’t come across as a great mind of criticism, but rather more of an all-star observer.

Son change opens with a paragraph on love and marriage that will appeal to many. Williams writes with gentle prose about tying the knot, and how those of the Great Plains find the cheapest way to do so. The end of the paragraph pidgeon-holes the region just a tiny bit, but one can certainly appreciate the intentions of the critic.

The rest of Son change is big-time disappointing. Williams essentially writes several paragraphs about the plot summary and obvious facts. The direction of Alexander Payne is never explored, other than noting that Bruce Dern’s Woody is “slower and sadder” than Jack Nicholson in About Schmidt.  The character of Woody is effectively conveyed to the reader, but nothing is said about the performance of Bruce Dern. One will learn that the actor does appear in the film, but Williams merely offers the deep thought of “that’s just acting” based on his “shockingly old” appearance (he is 77 years old).

Son change begins strong, however by the end Williams is just making obvious statements. He fails to offer anything of value about Will Forte except that he is an SNL alum and plays the straight man. The final paragraph on the state of Nebraska is enjoyable, but the overall blandness of the review is difficult to overcome.

There is not enough substance in Son change to make it anything more than a slightly above average review.    

Quality of Writing Quality of Argument Spoiler Avoidance Presentation