Reviewed by: David Johnson
old age / difficulties of being elderly
senility / effects of dementia
Does God feel our pain? Answer
What about the issue of suffering? Doesn’t this prove that there is no God and that we are on our own? Answer
Did God make the world the way it is now? What kind of world would you create? Answer
hope of winning sweepstakes, despite the odds
alcoholism / drunkenness
living in a small town
father son relationships
learning new things about parents you thought you knew well
Bruce Dern … Woody Grant
Will Forte … David Grant
June Squibb … Kate Grant
Bob Odenkirk … Ross Grant
Stacy Keach … Ed Pegram
Mary Louise Wilson … Aunt Martha
Rance Howard … Uncle Ray
Tim Driscoll … Bart
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Blue Lake Media Fund
Bona Fide Productions
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|Distributor||Paramount Vantage (Paramount Pictures)|
Movies filmed in black and white are always something to watch, especially if that movie has been made in the past 20 years, as it represents creativity and art. This film “Nebraska” offers that same creativity and art, through not just its use of black and white, but also its well-selected cast, its simplicity, hilarity, and reality.
The story revolves around an elderly and driven man named Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) who plans on going to Lincoln, Nebraska to collect a $1 million sweepstakes prize he was told he won. His son David (Will Forte) ends up tagging along, despite his skepticism about the whole situation. As the father and son make their way to Lincoln, they see old friends and family who find out about said prize, and try to take advantage of their situation, not knowing that it may be a hoax.
The film is simple, in that it is not hard to follow. It is down-to-earth. The characters are likable, and easy to relate to (the town drunk, the character with the dead-end job at a stereo store, the angry elderly wife, etc.), and the ending offers a form of resolution for the strained relationship between the father and the son.
Bruce Dern’s character Woody, of all the characters, is the one worth analyzing, as he is depicted as a hardened and lowly man who has endured many hard times (***SPOILER*** It is revealed by his wife Kate that his brother died of scarlet fever at age 2, and his 19 year old sister died in a car wreck. ***END SPOILER***).
Throughout the film, not only does the audience learn of his regretful life and actions, but so does his son David, who, over time, feels though he is traveling with a completely different person. The intrigue that Woody brings to the screen (despite his sexist remarks) brings the viewer into the story, leaving them hoping for more.
Though I did enjoy this film very much, there are others viewers that may not care for its mature subject matter.
Violence: There is little violence in the film, but it is still present. One character drunkenly falls and hits his head while in a motel room, and is sent to get stitches in his head (the camera shows the stitches being put in). There is also an argument that occurs between two characters that leads to a short fight. Later on, there is a mugging by two hooded men. Also, a man gets punched in the face, and is later seen with a black eye.
Sex/Nudity: There is not much sex in this film, but there is much sexual dialogue and other instances. David (near the film’s beginning) is seen asking if his ex-girlfriend is willing to move back in with him, and if they are still having sex or not. Talk of previous rape charges are made regarding one of the characters. Words like “screwing” are used in reference to sex. There is also talk of adultery and of someone trying to get into another’s bloomers. There is one scene set in a cemetery, where a female character flashes the grave of a former flame (though the camera does not show her naked) who she left because of his supposed addiction to “so much weed.”
Language: The film is very heavy in foul language, and I appreciate that the film is rated “R” specifically because of that, as many films these days have much swearing and are still given a lower viewing rating. There are some uses of “f***,” 10 uses of “sh**,” several slang terms for genitalia (“c*ck,” “boobs,” and “t**ties”), at least 13 uses of “hell,” “d*mn” (4), “G*dd*mns” (7), and other examples of using God and Jesus’s name profanely.
Overall, I believe this film is of unique quality, specifically for its use of black-and-white imagery to display simplicity and hollowness, its easily labelled characters that need no explanation, the lead characters, and the growth between the father and son in the film, which emphasizes the importance of family, whether estranged or not.
“Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord” (Colossians 3:20).
However, due to the film’s heavy use of coarse language and other mature subject matter, I do not recommend this film for Christian viewing. This film is more for those who have a passion for cinema and/or are fans of Bruce Dern.
Violence: Moderate / Profanity: Heavy / Sex/Nudity: Moderate
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.