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Watching "Nebraska"
Published on January 23, 2014 by Sara Foss

Over at the DG, I review the new Alexander Payne movie "Nebraska."

Here's an excerpt:

"The new Alexander Payne film 'Nebraska' is one of the funniest sad films I can recall, a tender and melancholy movie about a son trying to connect with a dad who is deteriorating mentally and has never been emotionally available or particularly fatherly.

The dad is played by the great Bruce Dern, and the son by Will Forte, who is best known for his comedic work on 'Saturday Night Live.' Dern has been nominated for best actor and is receiving well-deserved praise for his performance, but Forte is the key to the film. We see the father, an irascible alcoholic named Woody Grant, through Forte’s eyes, and relate to every other character — Forte’s mother, his brother, his cousins and aunts and uncles — through Forte. And it is Forte who provides the emotional core of the film. There’s an aspect of Woody that is distant and unknowable. But the son, named David, is a likable everyman. He is put-upon and weary, yes, but also kind-hearted and generous and clearly trying to do right by his ailing father, who has failed him in many ways.

The plot concerns Woody’s belief that he has won $1 million. David informs him that his mass-mailed sweepstakes letter is really just a scam to trick him into buying magazines, but Woody’s having none of it, and tells David that he intends to walk to Lincoln, Neb., to collect his money. Realizing that his dad is too stubborn and addled to be reasoned with, David offers to drive Woody to Lincoln. When his mother Kate (the little-known June Squibb, in a fantastic performance) lambastes him for indulging Woody, David says, 'What’s the harm in letting him have his little fantasy?' packs up the car, and takes off. Of course, Woody is not the easiest traveling companion. When David asks whether he wants to stop at Mt. Rushmore, Woody replies, 'It’s just a bunch of rocks,' and when they get there, he observes, 'It looks unfinished.'"

Click here to read the whole thing.

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