|Nebraska still from Vantage Paramount via Slate|
Through Wyoming and South Dakota, Phedon Papamichael’s camera paints a moving portrait of the barren ugliness of the changing landscape of the American grain belt, with its empty fields, shingle houses and dying mom-and-pop businesses decimated by the economy. And Mr. Nelson’s observant, detailed script flawlessly captures the mood of what American ennui has done to both old and young men on their way to becoming losers, lending a look and feel that seems like the Great Depression.A second opinion from Slate's Dana Stevens (who also was enthralled with June Squibb's performance — she played Jack Nicholson's wife in Payne's best film, About Schmidt):
There are viewers who will find the folksy humor of Nebraska’s comic scenes too broad, and others who will condemn Payne’s portrayal of Midwesterners as caricatured and condescending. I am not among those viewers: I’ve always admired this director’s commitment to both seriousness and laughter, to showing the beauty and significance of ordinary human life side by side with its petty, venal absurdity. Nebraska’s unsentimental but ultimately loving vision of small-town America seems closer than ever to Preston Sturges’—a director to whom Payne is often compared, and whose great satire Hail the Conquering Hero (about a hapless soldier who’s mistaken for a war hero without ever having fought a day in his life) seems like a clear influence here.