Starring: Bruce Dern, Will Forte, June Squibb, Bob Odenkirk, Stacy Keach
Directed by: Alexander Payne
Written by: Bob Nelson
Rating: R (US) Running Time: 1 hr 55 min
After the nearly two-hour experience of watching Nebraska, I came away with some appreciation for the story director Alexander Payne and writer Bob Nelson were trying to tell. I just honestly didn’t find much to enjoy in it. A shame really as I was looking forward to this film based on Alexander Payne’s great work with Sideways and The Descendants.
Nebraska is a story about past regrets, and a son’s desperate need to make a genuine connection to his father. Somewhat subtle in its execution but obvious at the same time, Nebraska asks the viewer to take a road trip with two men, Woody (Bruce Dern), his son David (Will Forte) as they travel to collect a bogus non-existent sweepstake check for one million dollars. This journey leads them to Woody’s home town of Hawthorne, Nebraska, where his son starts to learn more about his fathers past. Unfortunately this also means we get to meet the entire family, and for the most part, they were a pretty unlikable bunch of people.
Nebraska takes its sweet time telling this story, and only starts to get to the meat of Woody’s (Bruce Dern) past after the half way point. Beyond that, revelations about Woody are few and far between , and most of the ‘in-between’ moments throughout the film are filled with awkward dull conversations between family members that can barely string three words into a sentence. There are some genuinely funny moments here and there, mostly provided through some great dialog delivered with zeal by June Squibb, but on the whole I found this film pretty dull.
If you like your comedy/drama on the slower more subtle side, I think you may enjoy this a lot more than I did. It also serves as a great showcase for two outstanding performances from Bruce Dern and June Squibb so it certainly deserves a viewing based on that alone. This isn’t a bad film really, it just wasn’t my cup of tea.
The film is shot in black and white, and looks great. A HD viewing at home on your TV will service the film well enough.
I really liked June Squibb in Nebraska, and I wish she had gotten more screen time. She was for me the most entertaining element in this otherwise dull film.