A delightfully simple road-trip dramedy from Alexander Payne.
Director Alexander Payne is a master of the subtle family drama-comedy (About Schmidt, The Descendants). With Nebraska, he’s crafted a poetic journey through the broken relationship of an aging retiree and his son.
When near-senile Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) mistakenly thinks that a magazine subscription letter in the mail is informing him that he’s won a million dollars, he takes off walking down the road towards the collection office 800 miles away. His family, including son David (Will Forte), grow tired of foiling his continued attempts at walking his way 800 miles towards his “fortune” in Nebraska. While his mother and brother think it might be time to house Woody up in a “home,” David opts to indulge his father’s fantasies of fame and fortune for a while, telling him he’ll drive him to the office in Lincoln, Nebraska. What follows is a quaint, heartfelt road-trip film that deftly balances drama and laughs.
Played alongside lonesome interstates and tumbleweed-heavy Midwest towns, Nebraska is an intimate portrait of a dysfunctional family who all live lives leaving much to be desired. The true heart of the film, though, comes in watching David slowly peel back the layers of his once-thought senile/drunkard father Woody, who slowly learn to bond over the course of the trip… well, as close as two stubborn and emotion-averse men can, at least.
+ An impressive turn from comedian Will Forte
+ Beautiful cinematography
+ All-around great ensemble cast
+ Deftly balances drama and laughs
Nebraska is a touching little film that will grow large in your memory. Director Alexander Payne loves to take flawed, unlovable characters and make them into relateable, but still flawed, lovable heroes. He’s done it again with the delightfully funny and heartfelt Nebraska.
Nebraska is rated R for “mild language.” If it weren’t for a small number of expletives used throughout the film, I don’t see why Nebraska wouldn’t even be rated PG. Not appropriate for children, but if you can tolerate a small amount of language, Nebraska is fine.
© Matt Tory, 2013.