Wednesday, March 5, 2014

WHAT? WEDNESDAY: NEBRASKA

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

Willy Dunne Wooters and I watched Nebraska on DVD Saturday night (2013, Rated R, not for kids unless you watch with older teens but check it out first). We loved it. In fact, after about 20 minutes I pushed the pause button because we had to talk about it. We both said, How did someone manage to make a movie about our parents and their families?


Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) lives in Billings, Montana. He wants to go to Lincoln, Nebraska, because he believes he has won a million dollars from a company there. Woody also has dementia, and his wife, Kate (June Squibb), won't take Woody to Lincoln. She's had just about all she can stand of him and wants to put him in a home.

Woody's son David (Will Forte) steps in and offers to drive Woody to Lincoln. Although David and his brother feel their alcoholic father never cared about them, David wonders how much longer Woody will be around. Along the way, they stop in Woody's hometown, which he hasn't visited in years. They stay with a relative, where David's two cousins sit on the couch in tandem and harass David; Kate, and David's brother Ross (Bob Odenkirk), join them; and all of Woody's brothers come over to see them.

David Grant: ...and all your brothers are coming over today, remember?
Woody Grant: Some of 'em are dead.
David Grant: The dead ones won't be here.

It was all the stuff with the relatives that had us howling with laughter. It's a bunch of people who aren't really in touch with one another, and they sit around staring at the TV and saying the same things over and over. David's cousins belittle him for driving so slowly. Willy Dunne Wooters said that his dad would say the exact same things that the characters in the movie say: How long did it take ya to get here? What kind of car you drivin' now? What's the matter with ya? Do you remember this person and that person?

Aunt Flo: Martha, where's Bart and Cole?
Aunt Martha: Oh, they're off doing some volunteer work picking up trash off the streets.
Kate Grant: It's community service; for Bart's rape.
Aunt Martha: Sexual assault!
Kate Grant: What's the difference?
Aunt Martha: A huge difference... it's... well... the boys can explain it to you better than I can...

They even visit the town cemetery, which I swear was very similar to a cemetery stop we made in North Dakota, though my mother was not as profane -- nor as funny -- as Kate Grant.

Kate Grant: [looking at graves] There's Woody's little sister, Rose. She was only nineteen when she was killed in a car wreck near Wausa. What a whore!
Kate Grant: Nah, I liked Rose, but my God, she was a slut.
David Grant: C'mon...
Kate Grant: I'm just telling you the truth!
David Grant: Where's your family?
Kate Grant: Oh, they're over in the Catholic cemetery. Catholics wouldn't be caught dead around all these damn Lutherans.
[Approaches another tombstone]
Kate Grant: Here's Delmer, Woody's cousin, he was a drunk. One time we were wrestling and he felt me up. Grabbed a handful of boob and Woody was right there and didn't have a clue, did ya Woody?

What I'm getting to here, is What movies or TV shows feel as if they're based on your family or on your life? Why do you relate to them?

I might as well finish reviewing Nebraska now that I've told you this much. I don't want to reveal more about the plot because I'm afraid I'll ruin the movie for you. Bruce Dern is so good as Woody. What a way to top off a great career. He was nominated for a Best Actor Academy Award. June Squibb was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. I enjoyed her tremendously. The movie didn't win any Academy Awards, but it's great. It was directed by Alexander Payne, who has directed some other movies I like a lot, including Sideways.

WDW and I agreed that the movie doesn't need to be in black and white. We felt it was an affectation that added nothing to Nebraska. But we love the characters, the screenplay, and the acting. This movie also incorporates one of my favorite themes: the interconnectedness of humankind. Woody's relationship with David may not change as far as Woody is concerned, but David is changed by the road trip. Will Forte gives a quietly beautiful performance.

Nebraska earns The Janie Junebug Highest Seal of Approval.

Now, how about you? What movies or TV shows feel as if they're based on your family or on your life? Why do you relate to them?

I look forward to reading your answers. I'm also curious about one other point: Did you need to grow up in a certain part of the country during a certain time period to appreciate this movie, or can anyone like it? If you've seen it, then please tell me what you think.


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

29 comments:

  1. Yeah, I want to see Nebraska. Clearly the movie based on my family is Killer Klowns From Outer Space. They make about as much sense as alien clowns.
    Okay, fine, here's the real answer: I'm going to cry if I talk about it, but Big Fish really hits close to home and makes me weep every time, so WHY DO I WATCH IT EVERY YEAR!?! Maybe because one day, it won't make me cry and daddy issues be gone!

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    1. Aw, Pickleope has daddy issues. Big Fish is a good movie.

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  2. I admire and respect Bruce Dern as an actor. I also appreciate the acting abilities of his former wife Diane Ladd and their daughter Laura Dern. Bruce was excellent in Coming Home and he has remained one of the industry's busiest actors with more releases in the pipeline. I love movies with realistic dialogue spoken by realistic people. Nebraska is my kind of film and I thank you the the review, Janie.

    I'm sorry, but I can't think of a single movie or TV show that reminds me of my family.

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    1. Maybe it's a good thing that you don't recognize your family dynamic in any shows.

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  3. Hm. Movies based on my family or life? Well, this may seem kind of crazy, but Zombieland or Scott Pilgrim VS the World both mirror the comedy of my day to day home life. I haven't ever actually seen a movie that depicts a similar family dynamic though. I grew up in a family of ten and we were pretty unique. My family now is a hoot, but we're all TOO creative for our own good and homeschoolers to boot. You don't see many shows that depict homeschoolers or that even hope to get the environment right--especially since it varies so much from one house to the next.

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    1. I'm afraid I haven't seen those movies, but you sound like a great bunch.

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  4. I've wanted to see this movie since the first trailers came out. And if I were to think of a movie that reminded me of my family, it would probably be My Big Fat Greek Wedding. Not for the Greek part, but for the size and dynamics of it.

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    1. I love My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I don't think you need to be Greek to relate to that movie.

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  5. I can't answer your questions except to say when I watch 'Peggy Sue Got Married' I feel extremely nostalgic. Perhaps because it relates to a happier time.
    If you have never seen this movie you are missing a treat!

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    1. I cry every time I watch Peggy Sue Got Married.

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  6. Think of Meryl street in August Osage county
    That's mom

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    1. I haven't seen that yet. When I do, I'll think: That's John's mum.

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  7. This is definitely a movie I plan on seeing. I've heard such great things about it.

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  8. I seldom watch TV and follow nothing. This review is so wonderful I will figure out how to rent the DVD and watch it. Thanks.

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  9. Honestly, I have no idea what movie is like my family... which I suppose is good. But I will say that upon a first meeting with my uncle C, (who is in his 80's) Tony had come straight from work. So, naturally he was wearing his postal uniform. So my Uncle looked at him and said "So... you work for the Post Office?" And Tony said dead panned, "Nope. I just REALLY like the uniform."

    I have a feeling we will really like Nebraska. :)

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    1. That is so effing funny. I can't wait to see Willy Dunne Wooters to tell him.

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  10. My favorite movie family is from the movie Parenthood. The Dianne Wiest character and her kids are the funniest, most offbeat bunch. They are nothing like my family, though.

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    1. I love that movie, too. Dianne Wiest is wonderful in that. I don't think I've ever seen her less than great.

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  11. Haven't seen this one yet. I already thought I would like it, but really looking forward to it now! :)
    I can't think of any movie (or book) that is like my family. But let's just say that movies about dysfunctional families often crack me up to no end. ;)

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    1. I think you'll love Nebraska, and you will laugh.

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  12. Nebraska certainly has some witty banter!

    (Wanted to tell you, I'll be out of the office for a few days, so if you have any editorial comments regarding the manuscript you're editing for me, I'll respond when I get back. Thanks!)

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    1. Thank you! You'll have some email from me.

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  13. I think I caught a scene from this this weekend---my husband had it on. The conversation between son & dad was something like: "But you must've loved mom." Dad shrugs "Never came up."

    Actually, the Cousin Eddie crew in Vacation pretty much nail the New Mexican relatives we stopped by to see on a road trip out West. My long lost cousin actually stirred the lemonade with his bare hand: "Ah, what the heck, we're bluuud."

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  14. Nebraska looks awesome. My parents are both from Nebraska, but sadly, I can't think of a movie that fits us. Maybe it will pop into my head when I'm not thinking about it. Otherwise I guess I'll just have to make my own motion picture.

    -andi

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    1. Willy Dunne Wooters asked me if we were going to watch more home movies this weekend, meaning Nebraska or something similar.

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  15. Hi Janie - I saw the trailer last night, when I went to watch The Monuments Men - not a good film, but interesting to see what the Nazis were trying to stash away ... so I enjoyed the story line.

    Nebraska - well I think I may see that too .. .cheers Hilary

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