“He doesn’t need a nursing home. He…the guy just needs something to live for."

Filmed in a stark black and white, Alexander Payne's film: Nebraska is a road movie and comedy/drama, that nails the back roads and small town America, like no other in some time. It's also about seeing people you thought you knew in your parents, in a new light as their history is revealed, and you realize they were once young, and full of piss and vinegar.You will smile and laugh at this film, but it will be uncomfortable. You will see many people and situations that will make you think of some you know and have met. If you have ever traveled across states and stopped along the way, through the small veins of America, you will nod and say..."Oh, this so right.”

This is a damn good film that starts slow, so please give it some time, as it is truly a gem of a movie. Payne's films, like the Coen brothers, march to a different drummer; the beats are not conventional. I have found that watching some of his movies more than once, helps in seeing more of what is going on. There is a somber tone to many of them and Nebraska is indeed that at times.

When we first meet Woody Grant (a fabulous Bruce Dern),he is wandering down the side of the road in Billings, Montana. He has decided to walk to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his million dollar prize he has been told he has won in one of those mail scams. The police pick him up and call his son David (a very good Will Forte), to come and get him. It becomes apparent that David has had to go and look for his Dad before, as Woody is a heavy drinker and his mind tends to wander. David is in a dead end job selling electronics and his girlfriend of two years has left him. He, like Woody, is lost in his own way.

David doesn't want to hear his dad's crazy idea about him winning a millions dollars and he tells him so. Woody is convinced that he needs to get there to collect his money and then wants to buy a new pickup and air compressor. A friend and business partner back in Hawthorne, Nebraska where he grew up, never gave it back. When Woody heads off on foot again to Lincoln, David’s brother Ross who is a local TV broadcaster (Bob Odenkirk), and their mom Kate ( a not so subtle June Squibb who is a fireball ),try to convince David that it is time for Woody to be in a nursing home. He disagrees and decides to take his dad himself to Nebraska. Maybe he can get to know him a little better on the trip.

The road from Billings to Lincoln has a few stops along the way and the scenes between dad and son are interesting, funny and ultimately bittersweet, as David begins to see that life sometimes is right in front of you and not too far down the road for many. They decide to go and visit Woody’s brother Ray, his wife and their two sons in Hawthorne, who are so pathetically funny in their scenes, it starts to become sad in some sort of familiar way. The Coen brothers would be proud of these two. They end up meeting up with the fellow who had borrowed Woody’s air compressor Ed Pegrem ( old pro Stacy Keach),at the local watering hole and as the word gets round that Woody may be a millionaire, the friends and family start to come out the woodwork. This adds up to some truly hilarious scenes with them as they demand money that is owed. As they spend more time in Hawthorne and Ross and Kate show up to add many memorable scenes, David meets up with an old flame who was sweet on Woody. She sheds some light on his dad and who he was. I can’t recall a visit to a family graveyard that was so funny with Kate’s commentary on the deceased, that was so cold and sad also as Woody slinks in the background. When the two brothers decide to steal back the compressor from Ed, the Bonnie and Clyde moment with mom and dad in the back seat will have you grinning from ear to ear.

Boy, is this a good insightful film, on the ultimate loneliness of our lives and the people we love who we disregard sometimes when we shouldn’t. What happens when they get to Lincoln?…what you would expect....and then.

You should see this movie.

watch the trailer: