Director: Alexander Payne
Writer: Bob Nelson
Cast: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk,Stacy Keach, Mary Louise Wilson, Rance Howard, Tim Driscoll, Devin Ratray, Angela McEwan, Glendora Stitt, Elizabeth Moore, Kevin Kunkel, Dennis McCoig, Ronald Vosta
Synopsis: An aging, booze-addled father makes the trip from Montana to Nebraska with his estranged son in order to claim a million-dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing prize.
MPAA Rating: Rated R for some language
Sometimes life itself can be strange...
Although i can't say I agree with "Nebraska" being nominated for "Best Picture" at this year's Oscars, I have to admit this is probably one of the more interesting movies that I've ever seen. "Nebraska" is entirely shot in black and white, which is kind of strange considering that you don't see that many movies shot like this these days. However, the cinematography helps the film perfectly to convey it's dry perspective on life. Some may think this film is a bit of a comedy based on some of it's humor content, and they wouldn't be wrong.
On the other hand, the film can come off as a drama, with a lot of open ended unanswered conclusions; eerily similar to how things are in real life. Unlike movies, we seldom ever have closure to certain situations in life, and sometimes things just happen without much rhyme or reason. Sometimes life itself can be full of moments of drama and comedy. In a strange way, "Nebraska" reflects that beautifully.
The story begins as we follow an elderly senile man named Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), whom was known to be something of a womanizer and drinker during his younger days. But as he's gotten older, he's becomes increasingly more senile to where he can barely even comprehend what's going on around him. As luck would have it, he's on his way to Nebraska because of some magazine contest, where he believes he allegedly won quite a bit of prize money.
Needless to say, his entire family believes that it's a hoax, and try to convince him that it's best to forget about it. However, that doesn't stop Woody from heading to Nebraska any possible way he can; even if he has to walk there himself from Montana.
His son, David (Will Forte), takes pity on him, so he decides to humor his father, by taking him to Nebraska to claim his alleged prize money. Everyone thinks David is crazy, and even his own mother, Kate (June Squibb), isn't fond of the idea either. However, in spite of all the protests not to indulge in the old man's fantasy of a possible fortune that may or may not exist, the two embark on a road trip of self discovery that's sure to make an impact on both of their lives.
Some of the things they see end up ranging from life changing, while also leaving a lot of unanswered questions as well. The film isn't bad per say, as it definitely plays true to how life can be sometimes with all of us. Sometimes, it can be funny. Sometimes, life can be a living hell, and other times we can have happy moments too. And unlike most movies, there's not always going to be closure to everything that happens to us in life, as things sometimes just happen for whatever reasons. In a strange way, "Nebraska" is essentially a film about how life itself can be dramatic, and funny at the same time. It's a very unique film to say the least.
While I may not agree with this film's nomination for "Best Picture" at this year's Oscars, the script was certainly original, and it definitely warranted a nomination. It had just the right amount of comedy and drama to make the film highly interesting. Not to mention, the characters were memorable as well.
As far as the acting goes, Bruce Dern does a great job playing the senile alcoholic in this feature. Sure, there's times his character can seem like a bit of a jacka**, but Bruce is still able to convey his character in such a way that you can't help but like him anyway.
Bob Odenkirk was simply hilarious as the quick witted smart a** brother, and June Squibb was very funny in this feature as well. Sure, she can seem like a bit of a cranky old b**** throughout most of this movie, but she also has some tender moments as well that shows how much she loves her husband. Sure, she may call her husband an idiot majority of the time in this movie, but make no mistake. If anyone dares to hurt Woody, then she'll be the first one to set the record straight.
However, one surprising performance I didn't expect to be so good was by Will Forte. Not only did he manage to add a certain level of weight to his character, but it's almost surprising he wasn't nominated for an Oscar for this movie.
Having said all that, "Nebraska" isn't a movie without it's flaws. The pacing for this film can drag at times, and some of the subplots don't really go anywhere.
But other than that, "Nebraska" arguably one of the more entertaining movies that I've ever seen. Definitely worth checking out at a rating of three and a half out of four.
© 2014 Steven Escareno