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O Brother Where Art Thou (2000)

Art House & International and Comedy movie directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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The Classics Go Pop.

  • Feb 5, 2002
Only the Coen Brothers could loosely base a film on THE ODYSSEY, set it in rural 1930s Mississippi, change the lead character from a war hero to an escaped chain-gang convict, and make the movie work successfully. The plot of the movie is that Ulysses "Everett" McGill, Pete, and Delmar are three convicts, chained together, who have escaped and are on the run to supposedly fine some loot (1.2 million dollars to be exact) that "Everett" buried before he was put in the pen. Along the way they meet a variety of characters from a blind railroad man, a one-eyed Bible salesman, three beautiful sirens washing clothes in the river, and George "Babyface" Nelson. Throw in a Klu Klux Klan meeting that starts off in a rousing musical number that seems a cross between a Broadway musical and the flying monkey theme from THE WIZARD OF OZ; a couple of lynch mobs; back-stabbing family members; a prayed for miracle flood of Biblical proportions; and a strange character who seems a lot like the devil and you're in for a toe-stomping, roller coaster ride of a movie filled with humor of all kinds.

Many people have criticized the movie because they don't understand what's going on throughout the movie. To begin with, the film is loosely based on Homer's THE ODYSSEY. If you're familiar with that classic piece of literature, you will have a better understanding of the movie and perhaps appreciate it a bit more. But if you aren't familiar with THE ODYSSEY, it really shouldn't make too much of a difference. This is a Coen brother's film and like all of their movies it is quirky, somewhat bizarre, and full of classical and pop cultural references. The humor is on several different levels from visual gags to witty word play.

However, not everyone will find the film enjoyable. Nevertheless, this is probably the most audience accessible of all Coen films. It's made in the same sort of style as RAISING ARIZONA and THE HUDSUCKER PROXY and has a "happy" ending. The film feels like one is watching an old silent film brought to life and connected together. Not only that, but the movie also has one of the best soundtracks in recent years; the music is a key part of the film.

Other than that all I can say is that my brother and I are different as night and day and there aren't very many movies we both enjoy. We both loved this movie.

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About this movie


Only Joel and Ethan Coen, the fraternal director and producer team behind art-house hits such asThe Big LebowskiandFargoand masters of quirky and ultra-stylish genre subversion, would dare nick the plot line of Homer'sOdysseyfor a comic picaresque saga about three cons on the run in 1930s Mississippi. Our wandering hero in this case is one Ulysses Everett McGill, a slick-tongued wise guy with a thing about hair pomade (George Clooney, blithely sending up his own dapper image) who talks his chain-gang buddies (Coen-movie regular John Turturro and newcomer Tim Blake Nelson) into lighting out after some buried loot he claims to know of. En route they come up against a prophetic blind man on a railroad truck, a burly, one-eyed baddie (the ever-magnificent John Goodman), a trio of sexy singing ladies, a blues guitarist who's sold his soul to the devil, a brace of crooked politicos on the stump, a manic-depressive bank robber, and--well, you get the idea. Into this, their most relaxed film yet, the Coens have tossed a beguiling ragbag of inconsequential situations, a wealth of looping, left-field dialogue, and a whole stash of gags both verbal and visual.O Brother(the title's lifted from Preston Sturges's classic 1941 comedySullivan's Travels) is furthermore graced with glowing, burnished photography from Roger Deakins and a masterlysoundtrackfrom T-Bone Burnett that pays loving homage to American '30s folk styles--blues, gospel, bluegrass, jazz, and more. ...
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Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Screen Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Homer
Runtime: 106 minutes
Studio: Buena Vista Pictures
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