From Academy Awardr winner Alexander Payne, the director of Sideways and The Descendants, comes the film that critics are calling “An American Masterpiece.” When a father (Bruce Dern) and his adult son (Will Forte) embark on a journey to claim a million-dollar prize, what begins as a fool’s errand becomes a search for the road to redemption. Discover why Nebraska is “one of those movies I’ll watch for the rest of my life.”

2 thoughts on “Nebraska

  1. 33 of 35 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Pippin O’ Rohan

    This review is from: Nebraska (DVD)

    On my way to “Nebraska” the other day on the bus going up Third Avenue in New York, it was bitter cold outside and two men and I, all strangers past sixty, smiled at each other in weather conspiracy. Finally the man sitting closest to the driver introduced himself from the Deep South, and mentioned jovially that he preferred this brisk chill, adding that he had worked for many years in Alaska where the temperature dropped sometimes to 53 degrees below. The man facing him, with silver hair and pale roses in his cheeks, was busy warming his hands and quietly added that when he was in North Korea, he had experienced the same thing. Turning in my direction, he murmured with a twinkle in his eyes ‘well, the whales are happy anyway’, to which I nodded amused, and then a light conversation began between the three of us.

    If I bring up this small anecdote, it is because it occurred to me how much these two contemporary Americans of mine have traveled, how much they probably know about America, and that one of these days I plan to pull out a map and start doing some homework on what I might call ‘The Heart of America’. There is a big difference between an American and a ‘New Yorker’, and while friends of all nationalities have traveled the States for years, my knowledge extends to a long summer in Bar Harbor, Maine when I was a child, a happy unusual one where thoughts of Maine always conjure up the scent of honeysuckle vines lingering in the warm air.

    But what about the State of Nebraska, as depicted by Alexander Payne, the director of this important new movie with a brilliant cast starring Bruce Dern and many others in a stellar performance? Mr. Payne was born in Nebraska by all accounts, and he takes the viewers on a journey that may be a memorable one for some of us in a myriad of ways. Filmed in black and white with stunning clarity, the opening begins with an old man, a derelict and vagabond by the looks of him, on a busy highway staggering painfully past the outskirts of the city of Billings in Montana with a mission in mind, and a young man by his side, his son David, attempting to stop him and argue the point with him. It is not the first time that Woody, his father, has tried to leave home in this way. He received via standard mail an embossed page of official-looking stationery addressed from Lincoln, Nebraska, announcing that he is the big prize winner of a $1 Million Sweepstakes Award, and the cash is just waiting for him to be collected. Elderly Woody is not taking any chances with this one and the mail delivery. He is on his way to Nebraska on foot, if necessary, to collect this sum with pride, and become a millionaire before his time runs out. He wants a new truck although he is no longer able to drive, and an air compressor which he lent to a close friend thirty years ago who never gave it back (later we run into this bully of a borrower and friend, and then further on to an ancient air compressor in a barn on another stop while driving slowly along on the country road).

    “Nebraska” is a story about a family but it is not a ‘family movie’. It takes place today during these uncertain times, and it is a serious topic that is of interest to a few of us depending on our different roles, responsibilities and age in life, not only in Nebraska but everywhere, when sobering and difficult choices have to be made, as we or our parents may be reaching the end of the road in some way. The couple depicted here, and born some time after WWI, Woody and Kate Grant have two sons Ross and David, the former considered somewhat of a success for being a newscaster on the local TV channel, the latter and younger one in a sludge job, where he is beginning to wonder whether he has any options left for a better life, and is operating in a vacuous indecisive rut.

    Their father Woody has always been indifferent to them. He’s one tough old bird, and while working on the treadmill of life with a heavy fortifying bottle in hand, he has always been absent from the concept of family, offspring and friends. One has the feeling that Woody has never been that interested in people to begin with, with perhaps one exception long ago, which leaves him looking briefly sad on recollection. Kate, their mother with a loud and foul mouth, is the strong feisty one here and might be called by some of the viewers ‘a piece of work’, while never giving into feelings of surrender, or defeat. She’s had it however with her husband who was considered somewhat of a wild catch in his heyday, while her sons are arguing whether it is time to place ‘the old man’ in a home for his own safety and their sanity. Although they are both sour about their father, David finally decides reluctantly to travel this last journey of unreality with his father, take a few days off from work to drive him to Nebraska, and essentially look after his parent who is now helpless.

    As a choice of characters, this viewer’s…

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  2. 52 of 55 people found the following review helpful
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    I Agree With the Golden Globes, December 13, 2013
    Jay B. Lane “professional audience member” (Seattle, WA USA) –


    This review is from: Nebraska (DVD)
    When a participant tells me to see a movie, I usually do! This time is no different, and, as usual, I’m really glad I did. (And the Golden Globes agreed with five nominations.) In my personal experience, I have… TWICE… heard that someone had won a sweepstakes, only to learn that it was early onset senile dementia or in the other case, Alzheimer’s. This is what we suspect when our elderly hero sets out for Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his million dollars. Problem is, he no longer has a working vehicle, nor does he have a driver’s license, so he’s walking… from Montana. His son is pulled into the story by his besieged wife.

    Full disclosure, I spent my early years on a farm in South Dakota, so the set design, the clothes, the speech patterns, the scenery, the pace, the people, and the small faded towns of Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska evoked fond memories. (No, I didn’t have an unhappy childhood, sorry…)

    We watch:
    * Bruce Dern (“Madison”) is the booze-addled curmudgeon who wants his million dollars. Dern has worked for decades before landing this role of a lifetime! He won “Best Actor” at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival.
    * Will Forte (“Saturday Night Live”) is his unfortunate son, unable to talk his father out of that haywire obsession.
    * June Squibb (“About Schmidt”) is the wife with a tongue like barbed wire. She has lashed her husband for decades until he rarely hears a word she says.
    * Bob Odenkirk (Lots of TV) is the “good” son who has landed a job as a television newscaster. When he gets into a fight he shouts, “Don’t hit the face!”
    * Stacy Keach (Lots of television) is a former business partner who sees this unexpected windfall as a way to collect some money from our hero.

    It’s difficult to realize that all those authentic relatives and neighbors were actors! Director Alexander Payne (“Sideways”) has evoked astonishingly pure performances, bona fide settings, and credible situations. This tiny little R-rated domestic dramedy is no more than a tempest in a teapot, but we come to care a great deal about what happens to these people.

    Payne doesn’t often make movies, but when he does….Oh My! Amazon will notify me when the DVD is available.


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