Wednesday, December 11, 2013


Speaking of potential Oscar nominees, I also recently saw Bruce Dern in Nebraska.

For old times' sake (and the dues he paid in all those AIP biker movies), Dern will probably score a nomination for his befuddled, alcoholic Midwesterner whose stubbornness compels his long-suffering son (Will Forte) to drive him from Billings, Montana, to Lincoln, Nebraska, where the old man thinks he's won a million dollar prize.

Director Alexander Payne shoots the film in black and white, which is a very cool thing.

But I confess, I just couldn't get into the sensibility of the story. While striving for ironic humor, the overall tone of Bob Nelson's script comes off as condescending and obvious.
The portrait of generations of Midwestern males whose minimal mental radar only blips for beer, football, and motor vehicles occasionally conveys the gravity of missed opportunities and wasted lives—along with those random, uncomfortable moments when adult children realize their parents had lives before they were born. But mostly the whole thing just gave me the willies.

Dern and Forte play the prickly father-son relationship deftly enough on their road trip across heartland America. (It's no accident Dern's character is named Woody Grant, a literally backwards homage to the painter of "American Gothic.") And June Squibb provides some feisty laughs as Woody's perpetually irritated wife.

But for all its visual stylishness, there's very little there there, in terms of story or characters, or the audience's investment in either.

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