Archive for January 4th, 2014

A different kind of road-trip movie: Alcoholic Bruce Dern and son journey to a strange place in ‘Nebraska’

January 4, 2014

By Matthew E. Milliken
Jan. 4, 2014

At the start of director Alexander Payne’s new film, Nebraska, a stubborn and elderly alcoholic is bent on traveling from his home in Montana to Lincoln. Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is convinced that by doing so, he can claim a million-dollar prize he has won through the mail from a sweepstakes company.

Woody’s wife, Kate (June Squibb), knows that this is a scam. So does his elder son, newscaster Ross (Bob Odenkirk). So does his other son, David (Will Forte), a salesman who has been spinning his wheels at work and at home; we see him failing to close a sale on a home stereo system and failing to persuade his long-term girlfriend that he’s made a mistake by moving out of the apartment they used to share.

Woody and David have a lot in common. Like his younger child, the Grant paterfamilias is adrift and ambivalent about the circumstances and direction of his life. If Woody, with his uncombed white hair and slovenly dress, is more battered than David, that seems to be mainly because the elder man has had more years to accumulate dents and bruises.

So once Woody makes it clear that he intends to travel to Lincoln by hook or by crook, David decides to indulge his father. Over Kate’s loud protestations, the pair set out on an 850-mile road trip to the state capital of Nebraska.

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