NebraskaWhen we can’t get a child sitter, sometimes the Wife and I will see the same movie different weekend days, so we can compare notes. I went to NYC with The Daughter and I went to see the Broadway musical Newsies on a recent Saturday, so The Wife visited the Spectrum Theatre and saw Nebraska. She deemed it quite worthwhile, so I went to watch it on that Sunday; she was right.

This is a rare starring role for long-time character Bruce Dern, playing Woody Grant, who is convinced that he has won a million dollars some Publisher’s Clearing House-type mailing, despite the insistence of his family to the conrary. His wife Kate (June Squibb) and elder son Ross (Bob Odenkirk) think Woody’s losing it. But younger son David (Will Forte) decides to humor his father, and this leads to a road trip from Billings, MT to Lincoln, NE, with an important side trip to the family’s past.

This is, as described, “told with deadpan humor and a unique visual style,” and it is more than occasionally LOL funny, without telling any jokes. Great acting by Dern and Squibb, both rightly nominated for Academy Awards. Stacy Keach, as an old acquaintance of Woody’s, Oderkirk, and especially Forte, who is best known for Saturday Night Live, are all excellent, as are many of the minor characters. There’s one scene with some older men and my wife suggested – as I thought – that they reminded her of some of her taciturn relatives.

The script is by Bob Nelson, who I do not know. The direction is by Alexander Payne, who has been the writer/director for several movies I have enjoyed, including The Descendants, Sideways, About Schmidt and Election.

Did I mention that Nebraska was filmed in black and white? This enhances the feel of the story tremendously.

A friend asked which of the six Oscar-nominated films that I’ve seen so far was the most ENJOYABLE; it had been American Hustle, but I think it’s been replaced by Nebraska.

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