A high school teacher's personal life becomes complicated as he works with students during the school elections, particularly with an obsessive overachiever determined to become student body president.
"NEBRASKA" is a father and son road trip, from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska that gets waylaid at a small town in central Nebraska, where the father grew up and has scores to settle. Told with deadpan humor and a unique visual style, it's ultimately the story of a son trying to get through to a father he doesn't understand. Written by
Hilarious movie where SNL comedian Will Forte plays the straight man
"Nebraska" stars Bruce Dern playing Woody Grant, a 77-year-old man living in Billings, Montana who believes he's won a million dollars from a publisher's sweepstakes just because he received a craftily worded sales letter from the company. When the movie opens, we see Dern on foot, hoofing his way on the outskirts of Billings and on his way to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim his prize. It quickly becomes clear that the years have not been kind to Dern's character Woody. Alcohol, age, the bleak northern US Midwest, and the long line of life's events have left Woody a bit addled, which is why a sales letter can make him believe he's a millionaire. Turns out, he was always like that.
Woody's son David, played by Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte, also lives in Billings. He sells home theaters and other consumer electronics in the local appliance store, drives a dented Suburu wagon, and has the usual dysfunctional relationship with his increasingly disconnected father. After Woody makes several attempts on his own to escape Billings and make it to Lincoln, David agrees to take Woody to Lincoln in his Suburu. Events along the way take both Woody and David to Woody's tiny fictional hometown in northeast Nebraska where Woody's past awaits.
And there you have the setup for another of director Alexander Payne's wonderful road-trip comedies, cast from precisely the same mold as "About Schmidt" and "Sideways." This movie takes us through Woody's long past so that the present can seen with sharper focus. If you like those movies, you will love "Nebraska" too.
There's one more thing you will also love and that is June Squibb's portrayal of Woody's wife Kate. Squibb plays Kate as a force of nature with a mouth that's funny, insightful, profane, and tender all at the same time. Dern's already won one film award for his Woody and many of us believe Squibb will do the same with her Kate Grant. Squibb also played the wife who suddenly dropped dead in "About Schmidt." We didn't get to see much of her in that movie but she gets plenty of opportunity to steal a bunch of scenes in "Nebraska." This is a very funny movie with some poignant statements to make about aging, familial relationships, and the past's influence on the present. In that way, "Nebraska" is just like director Payne's other road-trip movies. But "Nebraska" is its own story with an entirely different take on these topics.
For some of us, it's a lot of fun to see great movies before they open. We got the opportunity to see "Nebraska" a few days before it opened in a national expansion of the New York Film Critics Series, which started in 1995. Last-minute tickets for this event were provided by Paramount through the tireless efforts of Tim Sika, founder and head of the San Jose Camera Cinema Club. Thanks Tim.
52 of 73 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?
| Report this