I’m confused. This movie has received a ton of award buzz, particularly for the lead acting performance of Oscar favorite Bruce Dern and the breakout dramatic performance of SNL alum Will Forte. Suffice it to say, the bar was set high. To say the movie failed to live up to expectations is an understatement.
Woody Grant (Dern) is an unemotional, lonely alcoholic in the early stages of dementia. When he receives an over-hyped sweepstakes mailer, You have won $1 million!, he sets off from Billings, Mont., to Lincoln, Neb., to claim his winnings. His son, Dave (Forte), agrees to drive him, knowing full well that the trip is a pipe dream. Nevertheless, he hopes the adventure will give his father a break from his life’s monotony and allow them to bond.
After a few bumps in the road, father and son turn up in Woody’s hometown of Hawthorne, where friends and family are all too eager to learn of Woody’s payday. Interest ranges from passing to all-out threatening when an old partner of Woody’s, Ed Pegram (Stacy Keach), demands a portion of the nonexistent winnings. Undeterred, Dave and Woody continue their journey.
Frankly, I found the movie boring. The acting was rangeless, with the only really compelling performance given by June Squibb, who plays Woody’s exasperated wife, Kate. I don’t know what else to say. If the movie had a message, I missed it. Overall, the film is as gray and hopeless as the landscape. It’s a 5.