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See ‘Farmer of the Year,’ if you can

By Staff | Nov 4, 2018

I went to a movie one night last week.

I know, big deal. People do that all the time. Well, maybe some people do, but I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to go to movies. And I love popcorn. I just don’t seem to make time in my schedule for it. By the time I get ready to go to one, it is already out of the theater and available on DVD or Netflix.

But, last week I made time to go to Albert Lea and see a movie called “Farmer of the Year.”

You have probably never heard of it. It is an independent film that is out in a few theaters on a limited basis.

I mainly went to it because it was mostly filmed in Tyler, Minnesota, where I used to live. And dozens of folks I know were extras in the movie. So it was fun to watch it and spot people and places I know well.

But then I realized that the movie was actually pretty good. And it got me hooked.

“Farmer of the Year” is sort of a ‘coming of age’ movie. Only in this case, the person coming of age is not a young person filled with angst. Instead, it is an 83-year-old farmer named Hap Anderson coming to grips with being old.

Hap has been farming for 70 years. He promised his wife that one day he would quit and retire and they would travel. But, then she died.

His son and daughter-in-law convince him to sell the farm to them so he can retire and live the good life. He does, thinking he can still help them run the farm, but he learns they don’t want his help and they are making many changes at the farm.

With not much to do, he decides to travel and see the U.S. and end up at a 65th reunion of his army buddies in California. He enlists his younger, retired-to-Arizona, brother to come with him. So, the two of them haul an old Winnebago out of the shelter belt on the farm and get ready to go. However, the brother dies the day before they were going to leave.

Hap winds up making the trip with his rather messed up 23-year-old granddaughter.

Along the way he wants to look up an old flame from his army days, a gorgeous nurse, so he can show up at the reunion with her on his arm.

On the trip, Hap and his granddaughter eventually help each other figure out what their lives are actually all about, and what it means to be old or young.

I won’t tell you more so as not to spoil it for you (or maybe I?already have), should you ever be able to see this movie. Like I said, it is in limited release. But, perhaps it will be on Netflix some day.

I think a lot of folks could relate to this movie. Old guys, farmers, people in small towns and rural Minnesota. There is a lot to think about after you see it.

Hap Anderson is played by veteran actor Barry Corbin. Now, maybe you don’t recognize the name, but Corbin has been in more than a hundred movies and television shows. I remember him from the TV show “Northern Exposure” where he played a cantankerous retired astronaut.

Corbin was kind of a square-faced, square-jawed guy with thick black hair and a Texas drawl. If you see a picture of him from years ago you will probably immediately recognize him.

You won’t in this movie. He doesn’t look like that anymore, as he has gotten old, round-faced and bald. He plays the part of Hap Anderson perfectly.

Hap’s brother, Vern Anderson, is played by another veteran actor, Terry Kiser. He, too, has been in many movies and TV shows, but is probably best known as being Bernie in the two “Weekend at Bernie’s” movies. In case you don’t know the plot, Bernie dies early on and is dead through most of the movie.

Ironically, Kiser’s character also dies in this movie. Both times I think he was wearing a Hawaiian shirt.

Perhaps you wonder why a movie would be made in Tyler, Minnesota. Well, the script writer and co-director is originally from Tyler.

And you may wonder why it is titled “Farmer of the Year.” Well, Hap was twice a runner up for that title. And I can’t reveal more without giving a spoiler alert to the ending.

So, if you ever get a chance to see this movie, I suggest you give it a try. It won’t be the best movie you ever saw in your life, but it will be an interesting one at any rate. Especially if you are an old guy like me.

And here is a tip. Go to ‘Farmer of the Year movie’ on Facebook and you can watch a two-minute trailer for the film and it will give you a nice feel for what the movie is like.

I guess I can forget being a movie critic columnist, since I just wrote about, and recommended, a movie you may or may not ever be able to see. Sorry.