Nebraska movie posterYou may already be a winner. Mileage may vary.

Director Alexander Payne follows up The Descendants with another triumphant film that again uses strong characters and relatable situations. NEBRASKA again puts him and his cast in the running for those coveted award nominations. The script alone would make for great reading but when set in motion by Payne it takes on an emotional skin that hugs the viewer and pulls them in close.

Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is a hard drinking old man with little to show in life. When a letter in the mail leads him to believe he has a claim to a million dollar sweepstakes he talks his estranged son David (Will Forte) into driving him from Montana to Nebraska in order to obtain his prize. It is when the trip makes a pit stop in Woody's home town for a little reunion that the movie truly shines. Everyone wants to hear the story and get a piece of the winnings. David just wants to protect his father and salvage what is left of their relationship.

Full of colloquial characters and small town personality each role seems hand crafted and original. If you have ever lived in or visited a dried up small town you will immediately feel transported back to that time. Life is slower and the conversation sparse. Yet writer Bob Nelson makes each word count. It will evoke laughter, contemplation, or sadness; but you will feel something. The cast add a spirit to the film and seem to be born into their roles; it is that natural. June Squibb as Woody's ex-wife is fantastic and says what is on her mind in the most colorful ways. The rest of Woody's family bring a dark humor and break the somber feel that is Woody and David's relationship.

The biggest surprise in this film is the dramatic performance by SNL funny man Will Forte. Payne obviously saw something in Forte's personality and sweet demeanor that led to casting him. Forte and Dern spend much screen time together and they work in harmony to bring the audience in. David truly cares about his father and does all he can to keep him safe and renew their relationship. Forte portrays him in a simple down to earth way that seems very authentic. Dern gives what could be his best performance ever. You see the years of struggle and regret engrained in every expression Woody makes.

NEBRASKA is rated R for some language. This is a film intended for adults. The themes and dialogue are cerebral and would never appeal to a younger audience. Those old enough to appreciate it will discover a wonderfully moving and poignant film about family and reconciliation. It has hilarious moments that are well crafted and not sensationalized. It blends these with serious moments of Father and Son that make this a film to see. I give it 4.5 out of 5 bar tabs. It gets my vote for sure.


Matt Mungle

Review copyright 2013 Mungleshow Productions. Used by Permission.

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