It’s very rare when we get a movie that has nothing to it. There’s no visual effects, not much of a plot, and no really big actors. It’s even more rare when that film is pretty good. Nebraska is the latest film to get that Oscar buzz and while I wouldn’t say it’s Oscar worthy, I really enjoyed this film and recommend a rental when it comes out on Blu-ray.
When an old man (Bruce Dern) receives a letter in the mail saying that he won $1 million, he and his son (Will Forte) head from Montana to Nebraska to collect the winnings.
I wasn’t kidding when I said there wasn’t much of a plot. But that basic plot was able to entertain for almost two hours. It’s straightforward and simple, while providing enough curiosity by the viewers to keep you wanting to see more. That credit also has to do with the screenplay.
Bob Nelson (who has no other screen credits to his name besides two TV shows according to his IMDB page) does a great job here. The dialogue was always entertaining to hear even when it wasn’t funny or really advancing the story. The conversations in this film were always believable, giving the film a certain charm I haven’t seen in a movie in a while. And yes, the movie is full of laughs. It could’ve used some more in its slower moments but when the jokes hit, they hit hard and the whole theater was cracking up.
That comedy also comes from the film’s great performances. Bruce Dern is getting all the praise and will probably be up for an Oscar for Best Actor (his second Oscar nomination since 1978’s Coming Home). He absolutely nails his performance, playing the confused old coot trying to get his money. But I was really impressed with Will Forte. He does a lot with what little he’s given. He plays excellently off of Bruce Dern and manages to impress with what little “character” his character actually had.
The one performance that I absolutely adored goes to June Squibb who plays Bruce Dern’s wife and Will Forte’s mother. She was fantastic. Her character was given great hilarious dialogue and she executed it flawlessly. It’s a shame she’ll probably be pushed out of the Oscar race. The rest of the supporting cast (including the “always a pleasure to see” Bob Odenkirk) also do a great job.
If you’ve seen a trailer to this film, you will notice the film is in black and white. I’m not quite sure why. I don’t mind black and white and I understand its use in film’s like The Artist and Schindler’ List but I don’t know why it’s here. Maybe director Alexander Payne was going for an old feel as a good chunk of the movie takes place in Bruce Dern’s old town where they stop by on the way to collect the money, but even then it still didn’t add anything to the movie (but it didn’t really take away anything either).
Also, the film does go on a tad too long. An hour and 50 minutes isn’t long at all for a movie (with most movies going over two hours nowadays) but once the plot ran its course, it was time to wrap things up. It’s not too bad, but it’s noticeable in the film’s final moments.
While I wouldn’t say it’s one of the best movies of the year, I really did enjoy Nebraska. It’s a simple and entertaining flick with some great performances and dialogue. It doesn’t standout too much though, making a rental perfectly suitable for this film.