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Terry's Take

Movie Review: NEBRASKA

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Director Alexander Payne follow up THE DESCENDANTS, his hit film set in Hawaii with NEBRASKA, another comedy-drama, this one shot in the state where he grew up.

NEBRASKA is a bittersweet film about a cranky, delusional old man and the adult son who tries to help him.  
     
Actor Bruce Dern will probably get an Oscar nomination for his convincing performance as the stubborn old coot who believes he's won a million dollars in one of those hokey magazine subscription sweepstakes.

David (the son): So you told the sheriff you are walking to Nebraska?
Woody (the father): That's right, to get my million dollars.
Woody (reading from a form letter): "We are now authorized to pay 1 million dollars to Woodrow T. Grant of Billings Montana."
David: You didn't win anything. It's a complete scam. You gotta stop this, OK?
Woody: I'm running' out of time.

Bruce Dern at age 77 gives the best performance of his career as Woody Grant, a nearly senile alcoholic who hasn't talked much ever since he got back from the Korean War.
      
Now, except for occasional flashes of understanding, he's retreated even further into himself, and his son David, played by Saturday Night Live's Will Forte, decides to drop everything for a few days and try to help, much to his mother's dismay.

Kate: I didn't know the son of a bitch even wanted to be a millionaire. Should have thought about that years ago and worked for it.
David: How much longer is he going to be around? What's the harm in letting him have his little fantasy for just a couple of more days?

So David and Woody go on a road trip to Lincoln, Nebraska. But David's efforts to get his old man to talk get nowhere.

David: How did you and mom end up getting married?
Woody: She wanted to.  
David: You didn't?
Woody: I figured, what the hell.
David: Are you ever sorry your married her?
Woody: All the time…. It could have been worse.

To make this bad situation worse, old friends and family want to get their hands on some of Woody's non existent winnings.

Guy in bar: Woody grant's a millionaire! The next round's on Woody. (cheering)
David's brother: Honestly guys, Woody didn't win anything.
Family member: You're a damn liar. (They start to fight.)

Shot in beautiful shades of black and white, NEBRASKA will strike a melancholic chord with anyone who's ever had to deal with an aging, unknowable parent.
 
Woody T. Grant will never be rich, but he deserves better than he's gotten from life.

Terry Hunter, Hawaii News Now               thunter@hawaiinewsnow.com