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This movie has as much to do with The Odyssey as it does my undershorts. Look, having Holly Hunter and her kids repeat suitors twenty times really does not make the movie the Odyssey. Odysseus is slightly different than three retards tooling about the land, babbling and bitching incoherently. That is the essence of the movie, there is no plot of any kind. Some seeking of the treasure that Clooney told them in order to elicit their participation in his escape to reconcile with his wife and progeny. The movie is so thematically desperate it feels the need to bring Baby Face Nelson into the midst of their wandering; I would not be surprised if Calvin Coolidge made a cameo. Let's check our PC checklist: Saintly black man who never speaks, check, Evil White Bible salesman also a Klan member, check, depiction of all southern people as illiterate, racist, corpulent babbling fools, check. This is one of the most insulting films to people from the South, the Coneheads should avoid this area for quite some time. Yes, they are all in the Klan, you know, even their politicians. Look, these subtleties will not matter to you, the movie is boring like you will not believe. It consists of three idiots wandering the landscape with Clooney searching for more Dapper Dan hair gel, Delmar getting converted. Later, they run into sirens, just three broads washing their clothes, and they are convinced Turturro was changed into a frog. Get the Picture? Does this sound like the Odyssey to you? No, it is stupid, boring and poorly written.
Do you like really crappy old time music from the 1920s played on a phonograph of the period so you can barely make out the words, like you would want to? Hey, when Clooney sings and dances, it is time to head for the exits. He does that same piece of crap Man Of No Talent song twice, I asked my friends, what you want? I can't take this poop again. Yes, look forward to the worst old timey music, which the Coneheads think is enduring. Classics like: He's in the outhouse now, the candy crap mountain and their big classic: Eardrums of Sorrow. The Klan is all over the movie, evidently the Coneheads think everyone in the south belongs to the Klan. The main problem is that there is utterly no plot I can even describe to you. Eternal perambulating around burned up, boring, flat table land, with the most annoying motor mouth morons, arguing interminably with each other, searching for their friend they believe was turned into a toad.
Later, they get beat up by a Bible salesman, who of course, show of hands? He belongs to what organization? No, not the Knights Of Columbus, the Klan. Yes, not only are they all racists; they read the Bible, what do you expect? What a bunch of dummies. It is close, A Serious Man is a real piece of poop but this one edges it out for the worst Conehead film ever made. Plot less, boring, reverse racist, anti religious and an utter rape of Homer's Odyssey. Look, disagree with everything I said, the movie will put you asleep in your chair. What a giant pile of Poop!
About the discussion on the South, the rednecks and the hillbillies...
Well, I am from the South: Argentina, near the South Pole to be exact.
Is this southern enough? Seriously, some stories are universal. We have
never been to Greece, nor lived the classic period of Homer, but he
speaks to us today. So does Shakespeare and Dante. And stories from far
unknown places also reach us, when told with sensibility, intelligence,
humor, just like "O Brother". Besides, we all (the rest of the world)
have our own hillbillies too! And our own depression era (ever heard of
Argentina during year 2001?), our politicians and racism, our gentle
souls just like Delmar and Tommy... I simply loved this movie, folks.
Despite the subtitles, despite being on the other side of the world.
(And please forgive my errors in English, I tried my best)
PS: I believe nobody quoted this favorite phrase: when Delmar asks George Nelson what does he do for a living, while handling him the machine gun...
Terrific production and a good comedic performance by George Clooney can't save curiously detached, occasionally clumsy quasi-comedy from Joel and Ethan Coen. Depression-era road tale hearkens back to yesterday with three escaped chain-gang prisoners seeking a hidden fortune, and inadvertently becoming country music stars in the process! The film meanders along but never builds any momentum. It does get a big boost from Clooney's charismatic, Gableesque mugging, and also from the art direction and T-Bone Burnett's lively music. Otherwise, the screenplay (by the Coens) is seriously lacking in humor and interest, supporting cameos by John Goodman and Holly Hunter fail to add any lift, and the second-half of the movie slides precariously into self-indulgence. ** from ****
Coen movies are easy to spot. They have that feel, the feel of
originality and oddity, the crazy story lines and characters. Oh
Brother has all that. The toned down dustiness of the movie feels less
like a gimmick and more like it's supposed to be there, adding to the
already thick Southern filter the movie's viewed through.
The storyline is imaginative and totally impossible to predict. Giving credit to Homer is a bit silly, since the references to the Oddessy are made for fun and could easily have been discarded without changing the story.
Characters are the usual bunch of misfits and crazies you expect. George Clooney does the role of his life-time. Remember the usual, smug, to a varying degree annoying Clooney you see in every movie he's in? Forget him. This is another person. His two companions are good support and fodder for his clever remarks and half-baked plans.
Since this is set in the 30's South, there are tons of things to use as comedic elements. KKK, crooked politicians, religion, rednecks... amplify that with Coen's script-writing talent and you will laugh. A lot. There is even one of the trademark hallucination scenes, kind of.
What more can you say than: "Thank you Coens!" I wont tell you to enjoy this movie. It's very simple. Just watch it!
`Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?' is ostensibly based on Homer's `The Odyssey,'
but I have no reason to doubt the Coen Brothers when they say that they've
never actually read it. The film really has nothing to do with that epic
poem other than the fact that the filmmakers throw plot elements from the
original haphazardly into the mix every now and then. Need a Cyclops?
Dress John Goodman up in an eye patch to no point or purpose. Sirens? Have
the main characters stumble across three beautiful women singing and washing
clothes by a riverside, even though the scene seems totally contrived and
arbitrary in the context of the story. The Coen Brothers' lack of
familiarity with the original is only too apparent.
Actually, this is one of their worst films, no doubt about it slow, arch, disjointed and heavy-handed in both its plotting and its humor. The original `Odyssey' was an epic tale filled with adventure, high drama and great themes involving issues of courage, pride, commitment and love. `Oh Brother' is none of these. It is, in fact, silly, cramped and trivial. The role of Ulysses has been assigned to George Clooney, as the leader of a trio of convicts who escape from a chain gang in the Depression Era Midwest. As they roam the countryside, they encounter a myriad of bizarre, eccentric characters, some derived loosely from `The Odyssey' and some not. None of it really works, partly due to the arbitrariness of the plotting and partly due to the fact that the humor is not very well executed. In fact, most of the wit consists of having the actors overplay their facial expressions and accents. As a result of these two factors, the strain never ceases to show.
So are there any good things to be found in `Oh Brother'? Well, the movie does look good, thanks to fine cinematography and art direction, which beautifully capture the look of the dusty rural countryside of the 1930's. And there is, of course, the occasional joke or idea that actually does work despite the fact that the film as a whole is a major disappointment. Perhaps, in the case of this particular Coen Brothers film, the title is inadvertently symbolic.
Another outstanding movie by the Coen Bros. While their style remains similar, there appeal can be hit and miss. This movie is right on target. This is a rare film that combines excellent casting, superb cinematography and well acted roles. And the best part about this movie is how much more your liking and respect for it grows the more you watch. Never before have I found myself so engrossed in a dialogue driven movie. Every viewing brings new laughs and exposes new subtleties that I was sure I caught. George Clooney firmly establishes himself capable of acting in a comedic role. Fans of Dennis Miller will certain appreciate the "intelligent humor" this movie provides and Coen Brother fans should have a new personal favorite. And a small suggestion from this end. If you didn't find it funny the first time, turn on the captions and grab a dictionary. You'll be rolling by the time the boys are "in a tight spot!"
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie starts out as a wonderfully cartoonish, big, brawling, slowpoke of a film. With his hillbilly mannerisms, wall-eyed expressions, and perfect delivery, George Clooney gains redemption from the dreadful "Batman and Robin" and "Solaris". "I'm the paterfamilias," he proclaims when he sees his daughters. Priceless.
This film's defenders are those who find genius in things that are merely different. For example, watching John Turturro yodel is startling, but then so is watching a homeless man urinate in a bottle; genius lies in context, not in eclecticism. After listening to the wonderfully original music that permeates the score, the viewer is then treated to an audience singalong of "You Are My Sunshine", a song even more loathsome than "Disco Duck".
The subplot about dueling politicans made no sense and contributed nothing to the storyline, other than as a convenient way to wrap up the ending. Is there any politician in the world who would storm into a crowded music hall and proclaim "I am a member of a secret society"? It was a very weak and very lame way of disposing of the subplot villain. Why would a man who was so careful and crafty with his campaign throw it all away by raising the ire of a roomfull of people? So stupid, and made no sense. This is very sloppy writing by the Coens.
John Goodman is not a very good actor. Although he was brilliant as Dan Connor on "Roseanne", he just doesn't have the range to play different characters. He delivers his lines as Dan Connor would; little wonder then that the character is named Big Dan. Fred Flintstone, Babe Ruth, King Ralph: he plays the same character time after time, just like Morgan Freeman does. However, he has a good screen presence, so it's understandable that he's a Coen brothers staple. Holly Hunter, normally a firecracker, is ice-cold, and it's difficult to understand what Everett sees in her. John Turturro is, as always, on the edge of mania, ready to fall off the deep end at any moment. His howl of lust when he sees the women at the river is one of the funniest things he's ever done. "Looks like Pete's got the itch," Delmar deadpans in his philosophical way.
My main problem with this movie is that there is no point to any of it. There is no goal and no storyline. You can't identify with any of the characters, and it's difficult to accept Everett's longing to be back with his frigid wife. Villians pop up right and left, but they are just temporary. This film is like a series of half-finished thoughts, or half-remembered dreams, all leading up to a whole bunch of nothing. The ending fizzles out like a dying candle, with Everett begging Penny to take him back. Hmm, we're back where we started.
With better writing, this could have been a great film.
This the Coen's weakest movie that I've seen. It's not really a movie in the traditional sense, more like a series of sketches strung together rather tenuously. What makes it work is the immense likability of the 3 leads and some genuinely hilarious moments. What doesn't is its length and the broken nature of the plot. You could leave during the screening, return in 10 minutes and it really wouldn't matter. Perhaps if I'd seen this before some the Coens' more accomplished recent films I wouldn't have felt so let down. The scenarios that our 3 protagonists find themselves in grow more surreal and ridiculous as the film progresses, and then, bizarrely, for the last half an hour it's extended into a kind of boring melodrama before fading out with a whimper.
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is a beautiful movie with vivid, endearing characters. The storyline is broken neatly into episodes, apparently much like its source material. I haven't read Homer, so other than a few obvious nods to the classic author (the cyclops, for instance) I missed many of the parallels I'm told are there. It's difficult to pinpoint what makes this such a magnificent movie--probably because there are so many details that add up. The first thing that sold me, like so many others, was the music. The album sales alone stand as a testament to the quality of the soundtrack (I realize album sales don't always equal good music, but here they do). It feels like the movie was made during the Great Depression. If you watch movies made during the time, they were all "feel good" flics. Several reviewers here have drawn the savy comparison between OBWAT and "It Happened One Night", and specifically between Clooney's and Gable's performances. There are so many things that make this movie worth seeing. My only complaint that sticks is that it could so easily have been made PG. As it stands, it is one of the most harmless PG-13 films in a long time, and I wish the filmmakers hadn't opted to put in the extra "dammits" to elevate the movie into the more profitable bracket. Even the famous siren scene seemed tasteful, and sweetly seductive rather than racy. My point? This movie has the potential to make you smile.
It is simply the best movie I have ever seen. The entire cast is
superb. Excellent acting: not only George Clooney is fabulous as
Everett, but so are the supporting actors (Tim Blake Nelson, John
Turturro, John Goodman, Michael Badalucco, Holly Hunter, Wayne Duvall,
Ray McKinnon etc.). The cinematography is brilliantly composed,
magnificent pictures by Roger Deakins. The soundtrack is excellently
chosen, no wonder it became a tremendous success. The story of Odyssey
by Homer is paraphrased with care, it captivates you from the beginning
to the end. The Coen brothers did a remarkable job, perhaps their best.
All in all, it is a movie you have to see before you die.
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