Outfitted with delicious wit and a forbearing tone, the charm of screenwriter Bob Nelson's Midwest-set dramedy “Nebraska” is rooted in its clever dialogue and novel approach to small-town dynamics.
With performances cunningly delivered by Bruce Dern, Will Forte (“Saturday Night Live”) and June Squibb (“About Schmidt”), the endearing tale follows a father and son who set out on a road trip to collect a $1 million prize.
The aging Woody Grant, played by a pitch-perfect Dern, is convinced he's hit it rich after receiving a sweepstakes scam designed to bait people into purchasing magazine subscriptions. He's determined to get to Lincoln, Neb., where he plans to collect his cash from the sweepstakes headquarters — even if it means hitting the road on-foot (his wife refuses to drive him) for the 750-mile trip from his home in Billings, Mont.
Unfortunately, Woody is always a bit off-balance. His stride has been reduced to a shuffle and his cognizance is often hazy due to his old age and affection for drinking. Once a successful mechanic, the old man has lost his cachet. His sweepstakes jackpot could be his last shot at getting it back.
When Woody is stopped by a police officer after wandering down the road, his anchorman son Ross, played by Bob Odenkirk, suggests the family relocate him to a home. But his other son, stereo salesman David (Forte), comes to his dad's aid. “He doesn't need a nursing home,” he tells his brother. “The guy just needs something to live for.”