In this black and white family elegy, director Alexander Payne explores the prairies, the history, the empty towns, and taciturn people of his home state of Nebraska. An addled and alcoholic curmudgeon named Woody thinks he's won a million dollars in a magazine sweepstakes piece of junk mail. His son Dave, who works in an audio super store, indulges this fantasy, and so they drive from their home in Montana to collect their winnings in Lincoln, Nebraska. Thus begins the father-son road trip. They are joined by Woody's wife Kate, a non-stop nag whose acerbic wit exceeds Woody's sulky silence. Family stories emerge when they stop over in Hawthorne, where Woody was born. Thinking that Woody is now a millionaire, long lost friends flock like bees to honey. Payne, who uses non-actors in much of the film, never condescends to his subjects. We might not be like them, or admire them, but it's easy to love them and see ourselves in them.