Alexander Payne's black & white road trip movie supplies laughter, sorrow, tenderness and the best performance of 77 year old actor Bruce Dern. Dern plays Woody Grant, an elderly man who believes he won a sweepstakes prize of 1 million dollars. He is confused at his old age and the sweepstakes prize is nothing more than a gimmick from an advertising firm trying to sell magazine subscriptions. Not trusting the mail and determined to get his prize he begins to walk from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska. His youngest son David (Will Forte) stops him and brings him home, but that only stops him momentarily. David finally decides to drive his dad to Lincoln. Not because he believes the prize money is real, but it is a chance to get to know his father a little more. Along the way they stop to see family and friends who get swept up in the news of Woody's new found fortune. The more time David spends with his father the more he begins to understand him. David finally starts to see his father as more than just that. He gets a glimpse of Woody's early life, giving him a better understanding of how he became the quiet and distant man he knows today.
The relationship between father and son is what drives this movie to glory. The acting by Bruce Dern was outstanding, but I felt Will Forte did an amazing job as well. His performance is subtle which fits the film and character perfectly. The other notable performance is that of June Squibb who plays Woody's wife Kate. She has the best lines in the movie and single handily supplies the biggest laughs. I enjoyed the humor of the movie, but it was the compassion that I loved. The film's statements on aging and family relationships were handled with care and are themes we can all relate to. I walked out of Nebraska feeling I really got to know the Grant family and it is a family I am glad to know.
Rythemovieguy's Grade: 3.5 Jaws