First Hit: Great acting in a very good story.
This is a story about an aging alcoholic man living in Billings Montana hoping to make a final splash for his family.
Woody Grant (Bruce Dern) is a retired auto mechanic, who sits around drinking his life away. His wife Kate (June Squibb) complains about Woody all the time. Clearly there is a long history and they must have loved each other, once.
Their sons David (Will Forte) and Ross (Bob Odenkirk) do their best to assist their parents with David doing the most because he lives close by. Woody is convinced that he is the winner of a million dollars from a magazine publishing group. He cannot drive any longer so he decides to walk to Lincoln Nebraska to collect his winnings.
After getting jailed for walking on the freeway, David decides to help his dad by taking him to Lincoln to learn that there is no such prize. The film is about Woody revisiting his childhood, his drinking, his family, and his life. In doing so he opens a window to his sons to see him more fully and despite her complaining, how their mother loves him.
Dern fully becomes Woody – there was no Bruce Dern – amazing and probably Oscar worthy. Forte was really wonderful as the son who helped his dad and in-turn helped himself. Odenkirk was strong as the older, more successful brother. Squibb was an absolutely amazing. Her turn as Woody’s wife was bold, pointed, and wonderfully funny. Stacy Keach as old friend Ed Pegram was very good. Tim Driscoll and Devin Ratray as Bart and Cole respectively were really great as two doofus relative brothers of his. Bob Nelson wrote an excellent script and Alexander Payne’s direction of this beautifully shot film was wonderful.
Overall: This is a very strong film with top flight performances.