Road Trip movies has traditionally represented the different visions of the U.S. landscape and/or American Dream, whether we are talking about such landmark titles as Easy Rider or an irreverent raunch-com like Todd Phillips’ Road Trip. The sub-genre is familiar territory for writer/director Alexander Payne, after having made such films as About Schmidt and Sidways; not to mention, there are some elements of a road trip film in his last project, the Oscar-winning George Clooney dramedy The Descendants.
Nebraska is the new film directed by Payne and, as you can see from the trailer, it’s a proper road trip movie, through and through. The story revolves around Woody Grant (Bruce Dern), a cantankerous and often-drunk man who is convinced that he has become a millionaire after receiving a sweepstakes letter in the mail. Woody’s son David (Will Forte), realizing his father may not be around much longer, agrees to accompany him on a trip from Montana to Nebraska, so he may claim his fortune. However, along the way, the pair wind up passing through a small Nebraska town, where it turns out Woody has more than a couple old scores to settle.
The Nebraska trailer focuses on deadpan humor and small-town America comedy from the script written by Bob Nelson (The Eye of Nye), in addition to the portrait of the U.S. heartland painted by Payne and director of photography Phedon Papamichael – former collaborators on Sideways and The Descendants – through what appears to be rich black-and-white cinematography. We’re also given a nice glimpse at the collection of fine older acting talent assembled by Payne, which includes June Squibb (About Schmidt), Stacy Keach (The Bourne Legacy) and Bob Odenkirk (Breaking Bad) in key supporting roles.
Early reviews for Nebraska (from its showing at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival) are overall positive, with a number of critics having likened Payne’s poignant and melancholic examination of an old man’s dreams to being the modern Don Quixote of road trip movies. There’s something of a division so far, with regard to how certain reviewers feel Nebraska is a minor addition to Payne’s filmography – while others argue that it’s a return to form after The Descendants (a more Academy-friendly movie when compared to Payne’s other directorial efforts).
Personally speaking, this writer didn’t feel that The Descendants was Payne’s best work either, so the news that Nebraska is a step away from that film (and more towards the director’s previous output) is welcome for me. Moreover, it should be interesting to see Forte play a more buttoned-down and introspective character, after having spent years of delivering over the top comical performances on TV shows like SNL, 30 Rock and Seth MacFarlane’s various animated comedy series (not to mention the SNL movie spinoff MacGruber).
Let us know if you’re planning to checkout Nebraska in theaters in the comments section below.
Nebraska begins its U.S. theatrical release on November 15th, 2013.
Source: iTunes Movie Trailers