DVD Nebraska [DVD] (DVD 17119714),
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Director Alexander Payne (SIDEWAYS, THE DESCENDANTS) takes the helm for this black-and-white road-trip drama starring Bruce Dern as a tempestuous Montana father who is convinced he's won a million-dollar magazine sweepstakes, and Will Forte as the son who begrudgingly agrees to drive him to Nebraska to claim his winnings. The first time we meet taciturn Woody Grant (Dern), he's walking down the shoulder of a busy road in Billings, MT -- so determined to reach his unknown destination that he fails to acknowledge the kindly police officer who's struggling to get his attention. When Woody's dutiful son David (Forte) arrives at the local police station to pick him up shortly thereafter, we learn exactly why the old man was so singularly focused on his stride: Having recently received a sweepstakes letter stating that he has won one million dollars, Woody is determined to claim his prize in person at the company's head office in Nebraska. Although David discerns right away that the letter is little more than a scam to sell magazine subscriptions, stubborn Woody already has tunnel vision -- nothing will stop him from obtaining his jackpot, even if he has to walk 800 miles on his own two feet to do so. Of course, this doesn't sit well with Woody's outspoken wife Kate (June Squibb) or career-driven son Ross (Bob Odenkirk), but David is determined to humor his befuddled father nonetheless, eventually agreeing to drive him to the sweepstakes office personally despite having to call in sick to work to get the time off. Shortly after the two set out, however, the road trip threatens to get sidetracked when longtime alcoholic Woody winds up in the hospital following a drunken fall. Pushing their schedule back to make time for his recovery, the pair plan to take a detour to David's Aunt Peg's house in his father's hometown of Hawthorne, where Kate and Ross will soon arrive for an impromptu family reunion. When Woody runs into his old pal Ed Pegram (Stacy Keach) at a local tavern and shoots his mouth off about his recent "windfall," he becomes something of a local celebrity, and familiar faces come out of the woodwork to claim their fair share of the prize. Meanwhile, David learns more about his family during this one eventful weekend than he did during his entire childhood, prompting some deeply personal reflection that offers him a whole new perspective on the father who was always something of a mystery.
Bruce Dern, Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk, Stacey Keach, Walter, Stacy Keach, Stacy Keach, Devin Ratray, June Squibb
"Bruce Dern, 77, delivers a career-capping performance....Director Alexander Payne gives a muscular poetry to this road movie..."
"[P]oignant and ruefully funny....[The film] marries tart-tongued comedy with unexpected warmth in a story that touches on family, memory, getting old and staying alive."
Los Angeles Times
4 stars out of 4 -- "Bruce Dern gives the performance of his career as the headstrong Woody in the brilliant, wisely observed and wryly funny NEBRASKA."
"Dern is remarkable from beginning to end. Like the pickled and cantankerous geezer Woody, he has finally stumbled onto a life-changing ticket of his own." Grade: B+
"This is a comedy, with plenty of acutely funny lines, a handful of sharp sight gags and a few minutes of pure, perfect madcap."
New York Times
"[T]his is a richly textured film about a half-cracked father and a nearly estranged son....By the metrics of the heart, NEBRASKA is as big as it is beautiful."
Wall Street Journal
3.5 stars out of 4 -- "The film's starkly beautiful final images have a poignancy that might leave a lump in your throat."
4 stars out of 5 -- "[Dern] is back in career-best form in Alexander Paynes latest bittersweet mix of comedy and tragedy."
"NEBRASKA is a stark, sad, beautiful and memorable film."
5 stars out of 5 -- "A charming road movie that develops into a full-blown study of life and roots, offering a beautiful insight into the way families migrate and change."
"NEBRASKA ends up becoming something more complex -- an odyssey into the past, into missed opportunities, and into the complexities of an everyday family of malcontents."
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