"Uplifting Family Road Trip"
What You Need To Know:
NEBRASKA is a character-driven drama. It stars Bruce Dern as Woody, an elderly alcoholic who’s slipping into dementia amid an empty life in Billings, Montana. Woody receives a phony piece of mail claiming he might have won a million dollars in a publishing sweepstakes. He insists he’s won the prize and demands to travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick up the money. However, Woody has dementia and can’t drive. So, his son, David (played by Will Forte), takes a few days off from his dead-end job as a stereo salesman to drive Woody to Lincoln to show him firsthand he’s been misled. This sets off a string of comic and serious events that transform their relationship for the better.
NEBRASKA is a sweetly touching, funny, visually lovely movie, shot in striking black and white. The script and direction are very strong, as is the acting. NEBRASKA winds up providing a powerful lesson in family love and compassion. It argues for treating the elderly and the afflicted with care. Sadly, however, NEBRASKA contains some strong foul language, so strong caution’s advised.
(BB, Pa, LL, V, AA, M) Strong moral, pro-family worldview with powerful storyline urging compassion for the elderly and mentally afflicted, with some light pagan elements; about 18 obscenities and profanities (including two “f” words and an extreme vulgarity); son punches a nemesis of his father in the face after the man humiliates the father publicly; no sex; no nudity; alcohol use and man’s father is an alcoholic; no smoking or drugs; and, humiliation, stubbornness, sons team up to steal an air compressor from their father’s rival, whom they believe never returned the device after borrowing it 40 years before, but, when they realize they’re stealing from the wrong house, the mother comically lies to cover up their actions, and the sons eventually return the stolen item, plus elderly man and his wife engage in some comically grouchy arguing but it’s made clear they truly love each other.
NEBRASKA is a character-driven tale of an adult son taking his elderly, Alzheimer’s-afflicted, alcoholic father on a road trip to claim a million-dollar prize the father mistakenly believes he’s won. NEBRASKA has a strong moral worldview rooted in a powerful pro-family storyline that urges compassion for the elderly and mentally afflicted, with light pagan elements, including some strong foul language.
The movie stars Bruce Dern as Woody, an elderly alcoholic who’s growing old and slipping into dementia amid an empty life in Billings, Montana. When he receives a phony piece of mail claiming he might have won a million dollars in a publishing sweepstakes, Woody insists he’s won the prize. He demands to travel to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the company giving away the money is supposedly located.
However, Woody has dementia and can’t drive. So, his son, David (played by Will Forte), steps in by taking a few days off from his dead-end job as a stereo salesman and driving Woody to Lincoln to show him firsthand that he’s been misled. Driving across four states, they wind up stopping in Woody’s hometown of Hawthorne, Nebraska, which he left 40 years ago
This means that the father-son duo not only have to contend with family members who have comically empty lives, but also a former rival of Woody’s (Stacy Keach) who challenges his credibility and mocks his belief in his prize. This sets off a string of comic and serious events that transform David and Woody’s relationship for the better, as well as that of the entire family when David’s brother (Bob Odenkirk) and mom (June Squibb) show up at the relatives’ house.
To give away more of the plot would take away from the ample charms of NEBRASKA. It’s a sweetly touching, funny, and visually lovely movie that’s shot in striking black and white by Oscar-winning director Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS, THE DESCENDANTS, ABOUT SCHMIDT), from a very strong and clearly personal first-time script by Bob Nelson.
As is the norm in Payne’s movies, the actors reach performances of great depth while still drawing solid laughs. In fact, Bruce Dern (winner of the Best Actor award at the Cannes Film festival) is a favorite for an Oscar nomination as Best Actor in his first leading role in more than 30 years. However, it’s Will Forte who almost steals the show, as the former SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE actor reaches Bill Murray territory with a powerful performance that’s equally dramatic and comical at the same time.
As David helps Woody regain his dignity after a series of embarrassing episodes, NEBRASKA winds up providing a powerful lesson in family love and compassion. Sadly, the filmmakers have included some strong foul language, the main thing that takes away from the movie’s otherwise uplifting portrayal. So, strong caution is advised.