Nothing can be better than watching an Alexander Payne movie with two men on a road trip. Nebraska is a heartfelt comedy that is just a knee-slapper. Bruce Dern, Will Forte, and Bob Odenkirk are tremendous in this quirky, art-house comedy. No better film can compete with a Payne film all focused on a retired man wanting to drive all the way to Montana just to claim a prize.
The film is set on an old, typsy fellow named Woody Grant (Dern). Woody is a man who drinks constantly and frequently forgets his memory a ridiculous amount of times. The drinking side of him has been an issue to years and has bought shame to his two sons David Grant (Forte) and Ross Grant (Odenkirk). Without taking care of himself, Woody is sitting around drinking, cussing, and just being a royal nightmare to anyone around him including his wife Kate Grant (played by June Squibb). No matter how much people try to be nice or help Woody be involved he remains as his self-centered self.
Woody keeps a lottery number with him all the time and is hoping to be able to claim a million- dollar Mega Sweepstakes Marketing Prize. It is a lottery number he has kept for years and he never takes the time to think about the prize being worth it or not worth it. Since he is a drunk, has dementia, and lost his driving privileges he has no way going to Montana (where the prize money may or may not be). Therefore, his son David volunteers to drive him on a road trip to Montana to help him claim the million dollar prize he obsesses about frequently.
This movie is one of my all time favorites. I am a man who has been on road trips a variety of times. The acting and the dialogue between Dern and Forte defines how a relationship can be when you go on a road trip with one of your parents. Especially when it is for hours at a time and on roads that are deserted. The films witty behavior, crazy situations, and language, makes you want to re-think a vacation if your between flying and driving.
This is the sixth film directed by Payne. Payne’s films have gotten better every time he has made a new installment. For the screenplay he hired a writer for TV series named Bob Nelson. Nelson credits include shows ranging from Almost Live, The John Report with Bob, The (206), The Magic Hour, and Eye of the Nye. With Nelsons talent in writing for ridiculous shows, he helped Payne with the screenplay to bring the audience of Nebraska to be laughing hysterically. Nebraska is a film with tons of quirky dialogue that may seem ridiculous but once it is seen, people will laugh hard.
The technology sides of Nebraska is done in a very artsy way. Payne hires the cinematographer Phedon PapaMichael who he had hired to do the cinematography for his 2004 masterpiece Sideways and the Photography for his sensational 2011 drama The Descendants. PapaMichael creates an entirely black and white film in the highest resolution we have with filming technology today. It takes audience into a journey feeling like were in the sixties watching a classic. Dern is amazing playing Woody. His grumpy, yet alcohol-savvy self and driving everyone up the hill really fits his style of acting and his appearance. Up front he may be a grumpy man but is a brilliant actor. Forte is satirical playing David. He never breaks character, his annoyance with his drunken and opinionated father just drives him up the hill more and more. On the road trip with his dad, his dad getting out of the car to walk Montana, Forte loses himself so many times and it just happens frequently to the point where it goes from funny to serious. Nebraska is a hilarious masterpiece that is at a quiet tone and requires attention, but it is truly brilliant.
Does Woody win his money? Best for you to see it and find out. Payne is quite known for having twists to the ending of his movies. However, when Woody and Grant go further into there road trip, the film keeps getting funny as it progresses. Payne’s films never disappoint. I am now hoping he makes a new one soon. Do not miss Nebraska. Four stars.