Reel Freak

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Reel Review – Nebraska (2013)


One of the more subtle films of this season, Alexander Payne (director of The Descendants) brings us Nebraska, a father-son road trip film starring Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, and Stacy Keach.  The film has several funny moments, and never strays from its low-key entertainment.

Nebraska tells the story of Woody Grant (Dern), an elderly man who thinks that he has won a $1 million sweepstakes prize. While it is apparent to everyone except Woody that the prize is a scam, he insists on traveling to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim his winnings.  His son David (Forte) agrees to drive him there from their home in Billings, Montana, in order to spend time together, and to give his father something to strive for.  Along the way, they make a stop in Woody’s home town, where family members and old friends expect him to share his non-existent money upon hearing that he is now a millionaire.

This is a very heartfelt movie. Filmed in black-and-white, Nebraska has an incredibly subtle, quiet feel to it.  However, this does not necessarily effect how entertaining it is.  The colorless tone benefits the movie in an innovative and natural way.  A lot of the time, the film feels very relatable with its family-based characters and plot.

Bruce Dern’s performance is perfectly utilized.  He does a great job with his role of an aging man who wants nothing more than to do something worth living for.  Will Forte does an equally enjoyable job, doing all he can to make sure his father is happy and safe.  Bob Odenkirk’s role as David’s brother and Woody’s eldest son Ross is also notable.


However, the funniest character in the movie is Woody’s wife/David’s mother Kate (played by Squibb).  Whenever she is on-screen, everything that comes out of her mouth is hilarious.  She is quick-witted, says what she thinks, and is just what you’d expect from most elderly women.

Overall, the plot is very straightforward, and makes you feel as though you’re dealing with the problems faced by the characters.  The performances are genuine and the story is sweet, which is how it achieves its success.

It has already been nominated for five Golden Globe awards, including Best Picture, Best Actor and Best Director, and hopefully carries over to get Academy Award recognition.

While it may not be for everyone due to its slow pace and quiet nature, Nebraska is definitely worth the watch if you get the chance.

My Reel Rating – 8.2/10

Written by Josh Sazin on January 15th, 2014


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