Combustible Celluloid
Search for streaming:
NetflixHuluGoogle PlayGooglePlayCan I
With: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach, Missy Doty
Written by: Bob Nelson
Directed by: Alexander Payne
MPAA Rating: R for some language
Running Time: 115
Date: 11/15/2013

Nebraska (2013)

3 1/2 Stars (out of 4)

Lincoln Parts

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

With Nebraska, director Alexander Payne has taken a combination father-son bonding story-road movie and made it feel entirely fresh, even fresher than Payne's own earlier road movie About Schmidt. This is partly because of his choice to shoot Nebraska in moody black-and-white, and partly because of his unusual and spot-on casting choices of veteran character actor Bruce Dern and "Saturday Night Live" alum Will Forte. But mostly it's because of the delicate, lovely, bittersweet tone he conjures up and sustains throughout the entire movie. This movie is patient but not slow, sad but funny, and downbeat but hopeful.

Aged Woody Grant (Dern) has been suddenly disappearing from his Montana home and starting to walk along the freeways. His wife Kate (June Squibb) is worried and angry, but Woody insists that he's only on his way to Nebraska to claim a sweepstakes ticket he received in the mail. His son, stereo salesman David (Forte), tires of picking him up during his wanderings, and despite the fact that he knows the ticket isn't real, agrees to drive his father to the sweepstakes office. While on the road, they visit family, have various misadventures, get into a little trouble, and grow a lot closer as father and son.

Some of the movie's small towners may come across as possible caricatures, though the movie shows no sign of ridicule or malice. Like Fargo, whatever cartoonish tendencies the characters show, they're always rooted in real, recognizable behavior. But since these characters are not exactly verbose or eloquent, the miracle is how much actually comes across in these minimalist performances. Probably the movie could have been a bit darker, or more dramatic, or challenging, but I love the story and the time it captures. It's a wonderfully moving and satisfying experience.

Movies Unlimtied