Nebraska ***1/2

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“Nebraska” is the latest film from director Alexander Payne. It is a painfully funny and heartfelt film about a father and son road trip. The father believes he has won a million dollars from Publishers Clearing House and is determined to pick it up in person. The son knows it is a scam but takes the father there anyway because the father will walk if he needs to.

Bruce Dern and Will Forte play the father and son. June Squibb and Bob Odenkirk are the wife and brother of these characters. Eventually they end up as a family trip which unearths some old rivalries and family secrets. Their performances are the heart of this movie. Dern and Squibb in particular are wonderful in their roles. Dern is an old fart with no filter at all. Squibb is his nagging wife who doesn’t mind boasting about the men who used to try to get in her pants.

I enjoyed this film and these characters but I didn’t find it to be Payne’s strongest work. Compared to movies like “Sideways” and “Election”, this is kind of a minor work. Compared to almost all mainstream comedies and dramas it is a masterpiece though. The choice to shoot the film in black and white gives the film a wonderful texture as well.

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