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04 Mar 2014

Blu-Ray Review: The Acting in 'Nebraska' Is Splendid, but the Story Is Stupid

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I can’t deny the amazing acting work in this Best Picture nominee from the likes of Bruce Dern (an Oscar nominee), Will Forte, Bob Odenkirk and especially June Squibb (also an Oscar nominee). These performances are all wonderful.

What I can bemoan is the stupid, stupid story that propels that acting. Dern plays an old codger who becomes convinced that he’s won a million dollars because of a magazine subscription letter saying he’s a winner. So he starts walking from Montana to Nebraska; his son (Forte) eventually helps him on his quest with an automobile.

It’s a dumb idea, and the premise is too improbable for a serious comedy movie. Still, it does lay the groundwork for a decent father-son dynamic between Dern and Forte; Odenkirk shows up as another son and knocks his part out of the park. The film nabbed six Oscar nominations, and Squibb was the most deserving for her work as Dern’s droll wife. (The black-and-white cinematography is also quite nice.)

As for Best Original Screenplay, Best Picture, Best Director (Alexander Payne) and Best Actor nominations … I don’t think so. The movie is good in a peculiar way, but far from great. While Dern gave a strong performance, it doesn’t stand up when compared to the work of Leonardo DiCaprio in The Wolf of Wall Street and Chiwetel Ejiofor for 12 Years a Slave. (They all lost to Matthew McConaughey in Dallas Buyers Club anyway.)

Special Features: There’s just one, a making-of doc, that’s a decent-enough watch.

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