Black and White Nebraska Manages Colorful Warmth
- Friday, November 22, 2013
DVD Release Date: February 25, 2014
Theatrical Release Date: November 15, 2013
Rating: R for some language
Run Time: 115 min.
Director: Alexander Payne
Actors: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Stacy Keach, Bob Odenkirk, Kevin Kunkle, Devin Ratray
A gray head may be a crown of glory (Proverbs 16:31), but it also brings deterioration of mind and body. The effects of that decline have been powerfully portrayed in recent films like Away From Her, Iris and The Iron Lady, all focused on female protagonists. Nebraska, the new film from director Alexander Payne (The Descendants), shows the decline of Grant family patriarch Woody (Bruce Dern, The Astronaut Farmer), who believes he needs to travel from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to redeem a $1 million prize. The letter informing him he might be a millionaire is nothing more than a come-on to sell magazine subscriptions, but Woody, descending into dementia, is convinced otherwise. If he could just get to Nebraska, he'd collect the prize, buy a truck and spend his final years in happiness.
Woody's wife, Kate (June Squibb, About Schmidt), has given up on communicating with her husband. Theirs is a marriage in which the wife constantly shouts at and berates her husband. He never listened all that well to her and now no longer understands much of what she's telling him. "If he won $1 million, I’d put him in a home," she tells her son David (Will Forte, MacGruber).
A consumer-electronics salesman, David rises to his dad's challenge to drive him to Lincoln ("What else you got going on?" as Woody puts it). David calls in sick to work and sets out on the long trip, grabbing another chance to connect with his dad before Woody's decline grows more severe.
It's not long into the journey when David and Woody find themselves in a bar, where David confronts his father over lingering hurts and issues from childhood, particularly Woody's alcoholism. But rather than apologize or reckon with his past behavior, Woody brushes aside David's charge and pushes him into joining him for several beers. "Beer's not drinking," Woody insists.
The father/son journey takes a detour to the home of David's two cousins (Kevin Kunkle and Devin Ratray), overweight slobs whose resentment of David and pathetic need to feel superior to their cousin are obvious from the second we meet the duo. Then a parade of relatives and a former business partner Ed (Stacy Keach, The Bourne Legacy), hearing that Woody is on his way to great wealth, descend on Woody's family with demands that he settle up long-ago debts and "make things right."
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