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IN SHORT: One for our Best of the Year list. [Rated R. 121 minutes]
Once Upon A Time, David Grant's (Will Forte) father, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), got an envelope in the mail. Inside the envelope was a letter saying that Woody had won a million dollars in a sweepstakes. Wife Kate (June Squibb) agrees with David that the letter doesn't say that at all, but Woody is determined to collect his winnings. He doesn't trust the United States Postal Service to deliver the million dollars via the mail so he decides to travel to Lincoln, Nebraska to pick up the money in person. Woody begins the walk to Lincoln, 850 miles away .
David knows that his father didn't actually "win" the million, but there's no convincing an aging pops so, knowing this may be the last time any significant father-son experience could occur -- David suspects the entire bit is indicative of oncoming Alzheimer's disease -- David gets behind the steering wheel and off the pair go. From Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska word spreads quickly about the "good fortune" that has come Woody's way. And so forms a line of old friends that want payback for every random dollar lent or service offered during the preceding sixty or so years.
Those readers old enough to look at a calendar and "know" what time of year it is, as far as films and awards lists and forthcoming nominations for whatever statues are awarded at year's end are old enough to understand the emotional connection between a parent and a child. That connection, and the potential loss of that connection, is what drives Nebraska. What fills it is an impromptu family reunion in Hawthorne, where the aging men of the family -- Woody's brother Ray (Rance Howard) and brother in law Ross (Bob Odenkirk) sit with Rays sons (Tim Driscoll and Devin Ratray) and talk about money, in between commercials on an old teevee set.
Ray's sons are portly louts. Thugs in the making. While the local newspaper decides to do a small feature on the prodigals's return and good luck, the bigger threat comes from a former business associate, one Ed Pegram (Stacy Keach) who feels entitled to a good portion of Woody's winnings. Ed doesn't believe David when told that that those winnings are delusional and he is determined to recover his share of loans long forgotten.
More important, David learns more about his dad than he ever expected.
When we first heard Nebraska described as a "road trip movie -- but with old people" our first thought was, "oh god please no Will Ferrell imitators . . ." What director Alexander Payne delivers -- and a big deal has been made of the fact that Payne did not write this film, so props to Bob Nelson's screenplay -- is a terrific and touching film that will affect every adult of parenting age and up.
On average, a first run movie ticket will run you Ten Bucks. Were Cranky able to set his own price to Nebraska, he would have paid . . .
We have far too many movies to see now that will waste our time. Nebraska is not one of them. This is a grown up movie for grown up people. See it.
The 9* rating means the film is good enough, in our opinion, to make end of year lists and take statues and other such awards
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