Wonderful father-son bonding story with language, drinking.
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Based on 9 reviews
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Nebraska is a bittersweet character-based drama telling the story of a grown son and his father reconnecting while on a road trip. Language includes several uses of "s--t, "at least one "f--k," plus lots of other strong or coarse language. Alcoholism is a potential concern: the father is said to be an alcoholic, but he denies it, claiming that he only drinks beer. (He consumes a great deal of beer during the movie, and is drunk once or twice.) The main character sustains a head injury and goes to the hospital for stitches (some blood is shown). There's a quick bar fight and a quick mugging in a dark alley, with no real consequences. Older characters sometimes discuss sex, somewhat graphically, but with humorous intent. Though viewers younger than 15 may not be interested in this downbeat film, older teens and their parents should enjoy this.
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What's the Story?
Aged Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) has been suddenly disappearing from his Montana home and starting to walk along the freeways. His wife Kate (June Squibb) is worried and angry, but Woody insists that he's only on his way to Nebraska to claim a sweepstakes ticket he received in the mail. His son, stereo salesman David (Will Forte), tires of picking him up during his wanderings, and despite the fact that he knows the ticket isn't real, agrees to drive his father to the sweepstakes office. While on the road, they visit family, have various misadventures, get into a little trouble, and grow a lot closer as father and son.
Is It Any Good?
With NEBRASKA, director Alexander Payne has taken a combination father-son bonding story-road movie and made it feel entirely fresh. This is partly because of his choice to shoot in moody black-and-white, and partly because of his unusual and spot-on casting choices of veteran character actor Bruce Dern and Saturday Night Live alum Will Forte. But mostly it's because of the delicate, lovely, bittersweet tone he conjures up and sustains throughout the entire movie. This movie is patient but not slow, sad but funny, and downbeat but hopeful. Some of the movie's small towners may come across as caricatures, though the movie shows no sign of ridicule or malice. Like Fargo, whatever cartoonish tendencies the characters show, they're always rooted in real, recognizable behavior. But since these characters are not exactly verbose or eloquent, the miracle is how much actually comes across in these minimalist performances. It's a wonderfully moving and satisfying experience.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the issue of alcoholism. Why doesn't the main character admit to being an alcoholic? Is it true that "beer doesn't count"? How is the viewer supposed to feel about the characters' alcohol use?
Does the movie make fun of small town characters? Are they caricatures or stereotypes? Do they remind you of your own family members, or are they pure fictional creations?
What makes a character like Woody -- non-verbal, grumpy, stubborn -- so interesting?
How does black-and-white cinematography change the way the movie looks and feels? Would you have preferred it to be in color?
- In theaters: November 15, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: February 25, 2014
- Cast: Bruce Dern, June Squibb, Will Forte
- Director: Alexander Payne
- Studio: Paramount Vantage
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 115 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: some language
- Last updated: February 24, 2023
Our Editors Recommend
The Straight Story
Great, but young kids may be bored and restless.
Affecting adult drama has mature themes, content.
Heartfelt Nicholson, not for kids at all.
For kids who love drama
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