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Blu-ray Review: Nebraska

February 25, 2014

Nebraska Blu-ray CoverNebraska – A Paramount Pictures Release

Blu-ray Release Date: February 25th, 2014

Rated PG for mature themes and language

Running time: 114 minutes


Alexander Payne (dir.)


Bob Nelson (writer)


Mark Orton (music)


Bruce Dern as Woody Grant

Will Forte as David Grant

June Squibb as Kate Grant

Bob Odenkirk as Ross Grant

Stacy Keach as Ed Pegram


Our reviews below:


Nebraska Blu-ray Review By John Corrado

**** (out of 4)

The opening scene of Nebraska is a perfectly framed long shot that shows us Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) walking towards the screen, before a police officer pulls him over.  When his son David (Will Forte) comes to collect his elderly father at the station, he tells him that he was walking from Montana to Nebraska, to collect the million dollars that he blindly believes will be waiting for him.  Although his wife (June Squibb) and older son Ross (Bob Odenkirk) try to convince him otherwise, David sees no problem with keeping his father’s dream alive, so they take a road trip together that leads them to the small town where their extended family still resides.


Bruce Dern delivers a masterful performance as a man who is starting to show the confusion of his age, but has never given up on the dream of hitting it rich and moving forward in a way that his family never did.  Will Forte shines in his first dramatic role, and June Squibb is an elderly scene stealer.  The rest of the supporting cast is uniformly excellent, and the haunting black and white cinematography helps represent these people and places who are lost in time.  Nominated for six Oscars including Best Picture, Nebraska is another pitch perfect character study from Alexander Payne, an entertaining and bittersweet film that closes on a deeply touching note.  Please read my full thoughts right here.


The Blu-ray includes a “making of” featurette.


Nebraska Blu-ray Review By Erin V.

**** (out of 4)

In the sleepy town of Billings, Montana, Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) receives a letter from the lottery sweepstakes informing him he’s won $1,000,000.  All he has to do to claim his prize is mail the form back, (along with the number of magazine subscriptions he wants), to Lincoln, Nebraska.  Not wanting to trust the mail with a million dollars, Woody starts walking to Nebraska instead.  With his wife Kate (June Squibb) threatening to put him in a home, saying she can’t take him wandering off at every turn, his son David (Will Forte) agrees to drive him (against her advice) to Nebraska to collect his prize.  And from there, the film turns into a delightful road trip movie as father and son drive to Nebraska.  Along the way they stop in Hawthorne to visit Woody’s family, and most of the film takes place here.  The interactions are priceless, but also reveal so much about these characters.


The cast is superb.  Both Bruce Dern and June Squibb are nominated for Oscars – among the film’s six nominations, including Best Picture – and deservedly so.  The writing is sharp and the delivery of the extremely memorable lines is equal parts serious, funny, and believable.  Everyone feels so real in the film, yet never boring.  The film too takes a very slow pace, matching the sleepy wide shots of the landscape, but you can’t take your eyes off of it.  The choice to film in B & W also adds to the plain beauty of the setting.  The lighting is crisp, and brings out the colour tones even without colour on screen.  And tying it all together is a wonderful score by Mark Orton.  In short, it’s hard to find anything wrong with Alexander Payne’s Nebraska.  It is entertaining, moving, and very deserving of the awards attention.  If you haven’t already seen it, definitely check it out now that it’s available on DVD.


Nebraska Blu-ray Review By Nicole

**** (out of 4)

What would you do if you received a letter saying you won a million dollars?  When Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), who has dementia, receives such a letter from a magazine publisher, he gets his son David (Will Forte) to drive him to Nebraska to claim his supposed prize.  Woody’s nagging, realistic wife Kate (June Squibb) tries to tell him the letter is a scam, but he won’t believe her.  He wants to use his alleged million to buy a new truck.  Pretty soon, the whole town is celebrating Woody’s supposed future fortune.


Nebraska is sweet, charming and funny.  The dialogue is sharp and witty, and each actor plays their character perfectly.  The characters are likeable in their own quirky ways, and Woody is particularly endearing in his often simple way of seeing the world.  The black and white cinematography works very well in capturing his often foggy world, and the simple score by Mark Orton captures the simple beauty of the American plains.  A very likeable film, Nebraska is certainly worthy of all its Oscar nominations.


Nebraska Blu-ray Review By Maureen

**** (out of 4)

Most of us know that when that official looking letter arrives stating you may already be a winner, it really means a certain publishing house wants you to subscribe to their magazines and they aren’t really going to give you a million dollars.  However, dreams are hard to ignore.


Director Alexander Payne, with his touching and believable black and white film Nebraska, portrays the multilayered reasons someone might be unwilling to let go of a dream.  Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is a senior who is at a point in his life when his thinking is getting a little foggy.  His son David (Will Forte) keeps getting phone calls from the sheriff’s office saying that Dad’s been found wandering along the highway again.  Woody’s wife Kate (June Squibb) is at her wit’s end, trying to stop him from walking from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect his million dollar prize.  David figures that if he drives Dad to Nebraska, maybe the reality of the situation will finally sink in.


The road trip that father and son take together is humorous and touching.  They make a stop at Woody’s old hometown, staying with his brother Ray (Rance Howard) and his wife Martha (Mary Louise Wilson).  When his relatives and old friends learn that he may have come into some real money, their reactions to him are revealing.  Maybe what Woody was looking for all along was some recognition and respect from the people in his past.


Nebraska is filled with well written, often funny and memorable dialogue.  The wonderful dialogue is delivered brilliantly by outstanding performances from Bruce Dern and June Squibb.  Their awards season attention is well deserved.  These are characters that stay with you long after the movie is over.  Nebraska is equally touching and humorous, and the decision to film it in black and white adds to the overall low-key tone and pace.  This is a movie that stands up to more than one viewing, especially for the strong and memorable performances from Bruce Dern and June Squibb.


Nebraska Blu-ray Review By Tony

**** (out of 4)

Nebraska is where the alcoholic Korean war veteran Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is determined to go to claim the million dollars he believes he has won in a publisher’s sweepstake. His sharp-tongued wife Kate (June Squibb) and elder son Ross (Bob Odenkirk) can’t convince him otherwise, so his younger son David (Will Forte) agrees to take him there from their home in Billings MT, with a stopover for a family reunion in his home town. During the first visit back since his difficult childhood, David discovers a lot about his father’s early life and relationships with family and others in the town, especially once they think he may have struck it rich.


The first of several films set in the home state of director Alexander Payne to be shot in digital black and white, Nebraska is a beautiful film to watch, both in closeup scenes among actors and prairie vistas. Despite the poignancy of the story, it is full of humour, particularly from June Squibb’s scene-stealing performance. The brilliant main cast includes Stacy Keach as an old business partner and many quirky small roles, including Rance [father of Ron] Howard as a brother, Tim Driscoll and Devin Ratray as idiot nephews and Angela McEwan as a charming local newspaper editor. Over nearly two hours, we are given enough time to live with and really get to know and mainly like the people in the story. The rustic tone of the film is supported by an interesting score from Mark Orton, that often reminded me of a quiet Mariachi band.


Consensus: Another masterful character study from Alexander Payne, Nebraska is an entertaining and touching black and white film, carried by an excellent performance from Bruce Dern and memorable work from Will Forte and June Squibb.  **** (Out of 4)

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