[A holler in Bullpizzle, Kentuck. Folks is playin’ mumbly-peg and throwin’ parcels inta trucks and lookin’ all rustic-like. MOMMA, in overalls, is a-rollin’ her eyes ostentatiously. MEE-MAW is a-squintin’ at her. JD, a chubby mite, is a-nursin’ a bruise he got from a whuppin’.]
MEE-MAW: Why is you so sour alla time?
MOMMA: I hate it here! I wanna go back to Honky Crimeville, Ohio, where I can get addicted to heroin!
MEE-MAW: Why’n you care none fo’ yo’ young-uns?
MOM: Aw, you leave me alone, ol’ lady. I’m a product of my times!
MEE-MAW: [To JD, grasping the sides of his head] JD! Neva’ forget way yo’ fum, even if you learns to read an’ write!
JD: But Mee-Maw, I already know how to read and write! I’m 11 years old!
MEE-MAW: [Rearing back with her hands on her hips] Well, ain’t you a biggity-bug!
[CUT TO: MOM’s house in Honky Crimeville.]
MOM: Hey JD, I got a new beau, and a relapse.
[She enters throes of delirium tremens.]
JD: [Balling up and throwing his homework across the room] God, why do I even bother!
MEE-MAW: [Rushing into the room and grasping the sides of JD’s head] Nah you lissen here! Yo’ momma done had twenny relapses, an’ thass one too many, so you is a-stayin’ with me!
JD: But I’ll die of secondhand smoke!
MEE-MAW: Nah, don’ you fret none, JD, ‘cause ah’m a-gonna in-still ya with a work ethic, an’ you gonna end up with some mighty fine flashbacks!
[She drags him away. DISSOLVE TO: A flash-forward to JD as a strapping young man self-consciously dining from fancy plates on a white tablecloth with a bunch of Yale snobs.]
SNOB 1: The quinoa fork is fifth from the left, my hayseed friend.
[Effete snickers all around.]
SNOB 2: Tell me, “J” “D,” what is it like being inbred?
JD: [Seething] We don’t use that term, sir. In Kentuck, where I spent a few months a year as a child, we refer to it as incest. I assume you can tell by my seething that I, a decommissioned Marine, wish to kill you.
SNOB 2: Oh my stars and garters! [Faints]
SNOB 3: [Thinks] I like this hillbilly’s jib, as well as the way it is cut! I shall afford him the chance to practice law and make a name for himself amongst reactionaries.
[JD's phone rings; it’s from his sister LINDSAY. He excuses himself and leaves the room to answer it.]
LINDSAY: Momma had yet another relapse. Can you risk your career to come to see her and also have some flashbacks?
JD: If you could see me grimace dramatically, you’d know that I will.
[CUT TO: A party on someone’s lawn in Kentuck. JD is talking with some old friends.]
OLD FRIEND 1: You’re having trouble finding a rehab for your Momma? Now’s a good time to remind people that — [makes air quotes] “us hill folk” always take care of our own. I’ll get my old lady to pull some hillbilly strings.
JD: Thanks. That bit where the hillbillies all took their hats off at Pee-Paw’s funeral just wasn’t carrying the theme.
OLD FRIEND 2: That’s all right, JD. Now have you a fried bologna.
[CUT TO: A motel where JD has taken MOMMA to get clean, putting his law career at risk.]
MOMMA: Honey, will you run across that highway and get me some Funyuns?
[JD does so, flashing-back to beat the band the whole time, and when he gets back MOMMA is relapsing yet again.]
JD: I love you, Momma, but it’s time for some tough love, meaning me pursuing my own best interests and acting moral about it.
MOMMA: [Looking offscreen] Third Act already? [To JD] I understand, son.
[CUT TO: JD VANCE, all grown and having written a best-seller, giving a lecture to a bunch of rich conservatives.]
JD: And that is the lesson my Momma and my Mee-Maw and my Pee-Paw and my Gee-Gaw and my Hee-Haw taught me in hills of the App-a-LAH-chia: Hill folk are proud folk, who in our charming argot “never want nothin’ from nobody,” and when they do it’s OxyContin; and that means social programs for the poor and the drug-addicted — yes, even if they’re white! — are a waste of precious government resources that could go to tax cuts for the wealthy.
MEE-MAW, in heaven: Thass my bo-ee! Ah wisht I was there raht now, so’s ah could grasp th’ sides of his head!
You dun leff out the haound...
Thanks for subjecting yourself to Holler Hell, Roy. I’ve heard the movie is hot garbage.
Just want to add that someone on twitter -- referencing Vance’s elitism and condescension -- referred to the movie as “hillwilliam elegy” and I still haven’t stopped laughing.