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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. And just to prove that the brothers haven't lost their knack for bad-taste humor, we get a Ku Klux Klan rally choreographed like a cross between a Nuremberg rally and a Busby Berkeley musical.--Philip Kemp
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CastGeorge Clooney, Holly Hunter, John Turturro, John Goodman, Tim Blake Nelson
DirectorEthan Coen, Joel Coen
Screen WriterEthan Coen, Joel Coen, Homer
Runtime:  106 minutes
Studio:  Buena Vista Pictures
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review by . February 05, 2002
posted in Movie Hype
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 …
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