After Woody Grant, played by Bruce Dern, discovers he has won a million dollar sweepstakes, or so he thinks, he will go to any length to get his prize. After relentlessly trying to walk there at every opportunity his son David, played by Will Forte, unenthusiastically agrees to drive him to Nebraska. On the way they will make a pit stop in Hawthorne Nebraska were Woody was born and raised. Once word of Woody being a millionaire gets out, many “old friends” resurface and think they are entitled to a piece of the pie.
On paper Woody is the paragon of a stubborn, drunk, senile old-timer, but after his past is revealed piece by piece throughout the film, you begin to see his softer nature, unintentional humor, and other complexities. Complimentary to his character was his wife Kate, played by June Squibb. She is an unfiltered sharp-tongued “city girl” who has something bad to say about almost everyone. They love each other but in a very resentful way, which is comical at times and insensitive at others.
One unorthodox style about the film was it is shot in black and white. This gave it a vintage feel as well as conveying the monotonous small farming town life of Hawthorne in an exemplary way. The main medium used in pushing this film was the dialogue, which was very honest to the theme. The banters in the first act were very scripted and struggled to bring you in, but eventually gained momentum and the ingenuity of the film came through.