“One million dollars. Can ya beat that?”
When first seeing the preview for Nebraska I was intrigued not only by its monochromatic appeal in 2013 (the only other black and white movie I can think of that came out this year is Escape from Tomorrow), but also the fact it was directed by Alexander Payne, known for Paris, je t’aime and The Descendants—both really great movies.
By the time I was done watching, I too felt like I had just gotten home from a road trip with the crazy dad that is Woody Grant (Bruce Dern): a forgetful old man with Alzheimer’s who is down to the last of his days (he’s often found having escaped home wandering along the highway). But some hope is found in his seemingly empty life in Billings, Montana one day when he receives a letter claiming his “right” to $1 million (mind you, with the right winning numbers).
We start in the Middle of Nowhere (Billings) where David (Will Forte) is stuck with a classic case of taking care of dad duty. Like, really crazy Alzheimer’s dad duty, to the point where Woody’s crossing the highway in the middle of the day convinced he is on his way to Nebraska to get that million. David agrees to drive him to the place where the letter must be presented knowing fully all of it is a scam, however he sees it as the last chance to possibly bond with his dad on a short trip.
It is in the way Payne captures the small stuff throughout (you’ll wish you could frame every landscape shot because they are all just so darn gorgeous), and of course the ever so obvious whiteness of middle America being projected that will really grab you and surprisingly maybe make you want to stay in Nebraska forever.
Funny characters pop up in the family and during encounters with old acquaintances after a pit stop in their small hometown where it all began, the people doing anything they can to rekindle their ties with Woody after hearing about his earnings. And in case you felt like you weren’t getting enough of June Squibb in HBO’s Getting On, then you’ll really appreciate her role’s likeness to the old crazy lady type that added the perfect element of funny.