Woody Grant, an elderly gentlemen who is starting to see the ill-effects of Alzheimer Disease, has just received a letter declaring he has won a million dollars. You know the type, the marketing scams that you throw away in the blink of an eye. Not Woody, he is convinced he has won this money, getting his son, David, to grudgingly agree to drive him to Nebraska so he can claim his winnings. Alexander Payne's Nebraska strikes the perfect blend of comedy and drama, masterfully capturing the stagnant life many Midwesterners live. This is really a father-son film, with Woody and David coming off as bitter opposites at first, only to recognize how truly similar they are. They both feel the effects of a stagnant, unexciting life with each hoping for something to slam them out of neutral, whether they consciously realize it or not. Woody is a character who is seriously flawed; he's an alcoholic, an unfaithful husband, and a generally crotchety old man and yet the film makes him a deeply sympathetic character. Nebraska slowly unwinds more details of Woody's life, revealing a good man at nature whose been broken down over the years due to his inability to say no to anyone when they ask for help. Nebraska is a very funny film, with Payne masterfully capturing the awkwardness that extended family arrangements can be. From the manufactured conversation starters to the awkward silence, Payne creates a portrait of family that is very funny but poignant as well. Much like life itself Alexander Payne's Nebraska is both a fun comedy and poignant drama, featuring extremely strong performances by everyone involved.
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