As a piece of regional filmmaking, Chris Boebel's period melodrama Red Betsy boasts unusually strong production values, touched by a handsome, late-autumn crispness that's warm, inviting, and distinctly Midwestern, like a living room ensconced in wood paneling. For this reason alone, the film ranks above the grotesquerie of Jeff Daniels-directed comedies or the determined artlessness of most homemade fare, even as it makes a similar appeal to family audiences who rarely see their world or values reflected at the multiplex. Steeped in nostalgia, Red Betsy epitomizes the new wave of simple, wholesome Midwestern storytelling that has been rallying against Hollywood fare, but its form of rebellion isn't terribly stimulating. Chock full of comforting bromides about families and communities uniting in the face of progress, the film takes place in Boscobel, Wisconsin, in 1941, when the Rural Electrification Administration was finally ushering the area into modernity. Though less than 100 miles away, Madison might as well be Shanghai. Adapting a short story by his father Charles, Boebel spends the early scenes credibly establishing the stubborn isolation of this rural environment, which resists the insistently looming changes. If any alterations are going to happen, Leo Burmester, a grizzled old Luddite with a talent for engineering, plans to make them himself, whether by constructing the titular prop plane or by building his own generator to spite the R.E.A. On the eve of the Pearl Harbor attack, Burmester withstands the double blow of losing calming wife Lois Smith to a heart attack and watching his only son (Brent Crawford) enlist in the Air Force. (Apolitical to the last, Burmester burns the radio for allowing news of the war to break up his family.) Worse yet, he's left to share the farm with his son's new–and newly pregnant–wife Alison Elliott, a schoolteacher whose progressive views don't sit well with him. Though Burmester and Elliott make able sparring partners, Red Betsy literally succumbs to an on-the-nose staging of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol, with the old man cast as the model for Scrooge in a school play. By forcing a predictable, Frank Capra-esque conclusion, Boebel too swiftly and neatly resolves the tension between the two leads, which hinges on the complications that come with adapting to a new world while still staying true to principles. Much as Red Betsy, like other Midwestern cinema, rejects Hollywood values, it can't resist following its formulas in the process.