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Fargo (1996)

A movie directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen

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One of the best movies ever made!

  • Jan 18, 2009
  • by
Jerry Lundergaard (William H. Macy) is obsessed with getting his grubby paws on his father-in-law's money. He's in "trouble" (what kind isn't explained, but my imagination tells me it's some kind of sleazy business or real estate deal. It's made clear later that Jerry faked VIN numbers on a GMAC loan to receive $320,000 - but GMAC is threatening to call back the money). He's so crazy to get money out of his father-in-law, Wade, that he hires two petty criminals to kidnap his own wife and split the ransom with them. This is just the opening to the movie, wait until it really gets going!

Jerry is a weasel; a sniveling, swindling, conniving, bumbling weasel, and the criminals he hires, Carl Showalter (played by the amazing Steve Buscemi) and Gaear Grimsrud (Peter Stormare) are not very bright either. During the execution of the kidnapping, they wind out shooting three people in Brainard, a small town outside the Minneapolis area. Assigned to the murders is Brainard's pregnant police chief Marge Gunderson (Academy Award winning Frances McDormand). Marge, unused to such violence in her small town, is determined to find the killers.

I don't want to give too much away, I want you to be as shocked and entertained as I was when I watched 'Fargo' for the first time. The film moves quickly, and bodies keep unexpectedly dropping. There's never a dull moment. This spectacular Coen Brothers film has everything in it, suspense, comedy, blood, and horror. (It's usually classified as a Dark Comedy). The performances by William H. Macy, Frances McDormand, and Steve Buscemi are brilliant; the casting was perfect. A couple of hilarious scenes are Marge Gunderson interviewing two hookers, and the "Geez, I'm going crazy out there at the lake" story by Mr. Mohra to Officer Olson. You'll laugh out loud at these. Jerry's fumbling, greedy attempts to get money (This is MY deal here, Wade) are a riot, and his temper tantrums when he fails are not to be missed. (William H. Macy should have won the award he was nominated for)

I was finally spurred into writing a review of this, one of my favorite movies, when the Special Edition DVD came out. In the Special Edition you have:
*A Documentary called Minnesota Nice (what Frances McDormand punned the dialect used in the film), which is interviews with the Coen Brothers and actors Peter Stormare, Steve Buscemi, Frances McDormand, and William H. Macy. It also answers once and for all the question of whether or not the movie really is based on a true story.
*An Audio Commentary of the film by Cinematographer Roger Deakins. He's not very loquacious, and speaks in a monotone - often muttering - but has interesting details of the locations (most of the movie was filmed on location rather than using studio sets), lighting, camera angles, etc. It's unfortunate he doesn't have much to say about the actors performances though. He also talks way too much about other movies he's filmed rather than focusing specifically on 'Fargo'.
*A Trivia Tract. Interesting little windows of information during the film, everything from the actor's previous films to the history of McDonald's restaurants.
*A segment of The Charlie Rose show where he interviews Ethan and Joel Coen, and Frances McDormand.
*Theatrical and TV trailers.

The Special Edition DVD is worth the price, I recommend purchasing it even if you already own a previously released copy of the film. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then run right out and buy a copy right now. I highly recommend this movie, definitely worth a purchase. 10 Stars. Enjoy!
Fargo - Special Edition DVD

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June 02, 2009
And for Bruce Campbell fans there's the added treat of seeing him on the tv in a pseado soap opera near the end of the movie--right before the wood chipper scene as I recall.
More Fargo (movie) reviews
review by . July 04, 2011
MGM has released two DVD editions of Fargo; both are good, and this is the better of the two.      Its main menu's background consists of footage of McDormand, examining the bodies of the movie's first murders. Menu interface is sparse; white space and memorable film stills serve as the backgrounds. An alternate French dubbed track is fair, and while the English, French and Spanish subtitles are adequate, none of them convey the vernacular of the so-called "Minnesota …
review by . January 10, 2011
**** out of ****      With "Fargo", I think that the Coen Brothers have finally perfected their technique. This is not their first masterpiece, although it's the perfect antidote to the disappointment that was "The Hudsucker Proxy"; AKA, the Coen Brothers film before this one. The problem with "Hudsucker" was that it delivered exactly what I wanted it to, but in the worst of ways. I wanted that film to be silly; I wanted it to be satire. And …
review by . February 10, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
We are thirty minutes into Fargo before we finally meet Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), the petite but heavily pregnant police chief in small town Brainerd, Minnesota, who will become the hero we all needed. Relentlessly pleasant and attentive to other's needs, she is also observant, book smart, and people smart, knowing just the right attitude and approach to each character in the movie. She neither asks for nor needs any special consideration for her gender or her condition (although she …
Quick Tip by . July 13, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
Another Coen Bros gem. Frances McDormand is nothing short of brilliant. Ditto for Steve Buscemi.
Quick Tip by . July 12, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
This movie puts a bunch of stereotypes to bed without being preachy.
Quick Tip by . July 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
My favorite movie about dumb criminals in the midwest and the worst idea in the history of crime. A Classic
review by . June 11, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
Marge Gunderson inspects some malfeasance
I was burned in the past by overhyped movies.      In 1994 Pulp Fiction came out and every show I watched had snippets of the movie and commercials for it were everywhere.  I saw it and honestly it wasn't what I thought it would be and came away cold.      Come 1996 and three movies were getting some big buzz again.  Fargo, Sling Blade and The English Patient.  Howard Stern on his radio show mentioned the former two of the three as being great …
Quick Tip by . October 06, 2009
Naive car salesman puts a kidnapping plan together and it quickly goes to hell. Engaging, entertaining and altogether quaint.
review by . March 19, 2008
A story about a bungled kidnapping that leads to multiple violent deaths and leaves a teenaged boy orphaned seems like an unlikely recipient of adjectives like 'funny', 'wry', 'humane' and 'oddly beautiful'. But that's the impression that this beautifully scenic movie leaves.  So perhaps the best review is to say that Fargo is an upsetter of categories-a film that uses the awful aspects of American life to point out the beautiful ones.   In spite of the resolutely depraved nature …
review by . December 29, 2005
Rarely do you find filmmakers as consistently creative as the Coen brothers. "Fargo" is, most definitely, their finest achievement. In fact, it's one of the very finest films ever made, let alone one of the best of the 90's. The story involves a car salesman (William H. Macy) who hires two goons (Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare) to kidnap his wife, planning to collect the ransom. Needless to say, the kidnapping falls apart, due in no small part to some bad planning on Macy's side.    The …
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I want to thank Everyone for welcoming me back! :) I'm here to stay folks, my sabbatical on writing reviews is over and I'll continue to review for Lunch. It's great to be back, too! Thanks again for … more
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About this movie


Nominated for seven Oscars and winner of two, this darkly amusing thriller combines a first-rate cast, "a dazzling mix of mirth and malice" (Rolling Stone) and a bizarre kidnapping plot that unravels the Midwest like never before. Starring Frances McDormand, William H. Macy and Steve Buscemi, Fargo is a brilliant tour de force from the creators of Raising Arizonaand O Brother, Where Art Thou? *1996: Best Picture, Director, Actress (McDormand, won), Supporting Actor (Macy), Original Screenplay (won), Cinematography, Editing

Leave it to the wildly inventive Coen brothers (Joel directs, Ethan produces, they both write) to concoct a fiendishly clever kidnap caper that's simultaneously a comedy of errors, a Midwestern satire, a taut suspense thriller, and a violent tale of criminal misfortune. It all begins when a hapless car salesman (played to perfection by William H. Macy) ineptly orchestrates the kidnapping of his own wife. The plan goes horribly awry in the hands of bumbling bad guys Steve Buscemi and Peter Stormare (one of them being described by a local girl as "kinda funny lookin'" and "not circumcised"), and the pregnant sheriff of Brainerd, Minnesota, (played exquisitely by Frances McDormand in an Oscar-winning role) is suddenly faced with a case of multiple murders. Her investigation is laced with offbeat observations about life in the rural hinterland of Minnesota and North Dakota, andFargoembraces its local yokels with ...
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Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Drama
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
DVD Release Date: August 15, 2000
Runtime: 98 minutes
Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
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