Shot in black and white by cinematographer (Phedon Papamichael) this film is at times stark and bleak, although with plenty of comic relief. (Screenplay-Rob Nelson)
Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is an emotionally remote, possibly senile, alcoholic who is convinced that he has won a million dollars in a magazine contest. Everyone tries to tell him it’s a scam, but to no avail.
As a chance to possibly bond with his father, his younger son (David-Will Forte) takes time off work, from his low level sales job as an electronics salesman, and agrees to humor his father and drive him from Billings, Montana to Lincoln, Nebraska, where he can collect his million dollar prize. As they travel towards Lincoln, Woody’s and David’s characters get fleshed out. Their relationship and the situation is not as black and white as it might first appear.
Along the way they visit his hometown (Hawthorne, Nebraska-fictitious) and meet Woody’s extended family and friends, some of whom believe he has actually won and want to take advantage of him. Small town America is on display, and for the most part it isn’t flattering. (As W. C. Fields might say “I would rather live in Philadelphia than in Hawthorne.” )
Well directed by Alexander Payne (Sideways and The Descendants) Dern gives an AWW performance, although Matthew McConaughey still gets my Best Actor vote for The Dallas Buyers Club. Woody’s wife (Kate-June Squibb) and Will Forte also do fine jobs.
The movie has a leisurely pace and some scenes don’t work all that well but the good scenes a really, really good!