First Hit: A very strong film about family and the pressures of living up to one's own and others expectations.
Henry Whipple (Dennis Quaid) is a head of his family farm; his dad Cliff (Red West) is still alive and pressuring Henry to make the family farm work the way he wants it to work.
Henry has two sons Grant (Patrick Stevens) the older college football star and younger son Dean (Zac Efron) who wants to be a NASCAR driver not a farmer. Henry really wants Grant to take over the farm, but Grant graduates and decides to travel the world. The undying hope that Grant will return haunts Henry.
Dean is hard headed and hates farming and his Dad’s placating ways. Henry, screws around with his old high school sweetheart while his loyal wife bears the pain of knowing but loving Henry anyway. She confronts him in one scene and in the next she’s holding his hand making a great public appearance. It is all about what it looks like.
This is the heart and key of the film, is how one is scene in public. Henry could be seething in side but he’s quick with a smile that looks real and is real – to a point.
Dean meets his fear on the race track and becomes lost. When his father covers for him and supports him for one of his stupid actions, he becomes the next generation farmer.
There are other sub-stories in this film which integrate with the whole story, one being that what goes on in Middle America’s farms reflects what goes on in bug corporations as well.
Quaid is perfect in this role as his quick smile and eyes that light up with his smile, are perfect for the man who is use to putting on fronts. Efron is very good as the troubled young man. The only thing that didn’t fit wonderfully for me, was why he lost his ability to face the fear of driving. However, his shift from rebellious young son to the future family farm leader was very good. Kim Dickens as Henry’s wife Irene was excellent. She embodied the faithful loving wife while looking past her husband’s indiscretions. Maika Monroe was wonderful as Dean’s young girlfriend. Clancy Brown as Jim Johnson, Henry’s rival Liberty seed seller, was very good. Chelcie Ross was also very good as Henry’s seed washing accomplice. Ramin Bahrani wrote and directed this very strong film that may show up at next year’s awards ceremonies.
Overall: This film has more under the hood than shown at first blush. It asks; what would you do for your family?