Nebraska (2013)

nebraska poster 2013 movie bruce dern
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 10/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Great stark visuals, Dern and Squibb

Forte isn't at the same level

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Nebraska

Studio:  Paramount Vantage/FilmNation Entertainment/Blue Lake Media Fund

Genre(s):  Comedy/Drama

Release Date(s):  May 23, 2013 (Cannes)/November 15, 2013 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

nebraska will forte bruce dern

I’m getting my $1,000,000!!!

David Grant (Will Forte) is at a crossroads in his life, and his father Woody (Bruce Dern) and mother Kate (June Squibb) are getting older.  When Woody gets a notice in the mail that he has won $1,000,000, he is determined to get from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to claim it himself.  David decides he has to take Woody himself when it becomes obvious that Woody is not going to give up.  David decides stopping at Woody’s hometown to visit family for the weekend is a way to attempt to talk some sense into his father…when the town finds out about Woody’s fortune, rumors and greed start flying.

Directed by Alexander Payne, Nebraska is a comedy-drama shot in black-and-white.  The movie was premiered at Cannes where it was nominated for the Palme d’Or and won Bruce Dern the Best Actor Award.  The movie was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor (Dern), Best Supporting Actress (Squibb), Best Cinematography, and Best Original Screenplay.

nebraska tim driscoll devin ratray

It took you how long to drive from Billings?

I’m a big fan of Alexander Payne.  I think he generally makes great choices in films and picks smart scripts that find a good and realistic balance of humor and drama.  Nebraska is no different than Payne’s other films and is a good fit for the director.

The story of Nebraska is quite touching.  It is about parents getting older and children coming to terms with it while recognizing their own weaknesses.  Much like something like Big Fish, David learns more about his father on the journey that he never knew…something that does happen when you visit people who truly know your family.  It is a growing experience for David, his father, his brother, and his mother…and it only takes a few days to change a relationship.

nebraska bruce dern june squibb will forte

You and your brother are idiots

The acting for Nebraska is sometimes great and sometimes quite weak.  Dern is amazing as Woody.  He plays an old character great and knows when to drift off and when to focus.  He is joined by a fantastic co-star in June Squibb as his wife (who also appeared as Nicholson’s wife in About Schmidt).  Despite Dern’s screen strength, Squibb steals the scenes from him.  Unfortunately, Dern’s main co-star Will Forte isn’t up to his level.  Forte sometimes gets it but often just seems to be reading his lines.  Bob Odenkirk of Breaking Bad is good as Forte’s newscaster brother Ross, and I do enjoy the doofus cousins played by Tim Driscoll and Devin Ratray.  Stacy Keach as the “bad guy” bully Ed Pegram is a bit too much and pushes it too hard to be realistic.

nebraska will forte bruce dern prize winner

It’s a major award!

The decision to shoot the film in black-and-white does add a stark nature to the movie.  Much of the land shown in the film is flat farmland and the look of the film just adds to the vast coldness of it (in a kind of The Last Picture Show style).  The movie has to walk a dangerous line from insulting “hard working people” by making them the butts of jokes and showing that just because someone might not be as intelligent as another person, it doesn’t make them inferior or superior.

Nebraska is a nice movie.  It is moving, but manages to keep a sense of humor about itself.  It reminds me a lot of Payne’s About Schmidt and could easily be seen as a companion piece.  Be warned, the script is intentionally slow and much of the dialogue takes on a stunted delivery as a result.  I don’t think it quite lives up to the level of Sideways, but Sideways was a lot about loving life…this is how life can hurt which isn’t always fun.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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