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I was really ready to enjoy this movie. After reading some very positive reviews for it and hearing it was weird and funny I decided to rent it. It had competition from the likes of Space Cowboys, Meet the Parents, Crouching Tiger, and Nurse Betty (all of which I could've rented) but I felt confident somehow this movie was going to be worth my money. But it was quite a mistake I made. Although this movie looked beautiful, it was boring and often made no sense. I didn't laugh once. It was definitely weird and unusual, but not worth the money to see. It was completely pointless. Maybe I just didn't "get" it. Perhaps you'll like it; I guess it's a "love it or hate it" kind of movie. Thank you for reading this review.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I am a huge fan of the Coen Brothers and am constantly introducing
people to "Raising Arizona," one of the most underrated comedies ever.
I went into "O Brother" with high expectations---the Coens, John Turturro, John Goodman, even Holly Hunter. I could even manage George Clooney under the sure hand of the Coens.
But this movie is AWFUL. NOT funny, except in about five (very short) places. Dull, dull, dull. Way too many drawn-out scenes with blues or bluegrass music playing over "depression" scenes, with absolutely nothing happening. About an hour into the movie, I was experiencing the worst feeling possible during a movie---I just wanted it to be over.
The completely pointless interaction with George Nelson (don't call him "Babyface") was a waste of Michael Badalucco's talents. Holly Hunter? She was in the credits, but was not in the movie, essentially.
I laughed four times during the whole movie: (Here are the spoilers) When John Goodman hit George Clooney with the stick; during the "Do not seek the treasure" scene; during the original singing scene at the radio station; and at John Turturro's dancing during the final singing scene.
Don't waste your time unless, as I did, you HAVE to see this at the behest of a girlfriend.
The movie seems to contain more references to more things than just
about any movie I have ever seen or heard about.
The many references to Homer's "The Odyssey" are well-known and mentioned in many places on this fabulous site (thank you IMDb).
But the references to the south come in a close second to Homer's epic, though they aren't noted as often. I'd like to help change that, and invite others to add their comments.
The movie takes place in MISSISSIPPI.
The character Charles Durning plays - Pappy O'Daniel - was the actual governor of Texas (1938-1942), was in fact a flour baron, and toured with a band (that's STILL playing together, albeit with new members as well as some of the original ones) called the Lightcrust Doughboys, who specialized in Texas Swing and other old-Tyme music.
One song that shows up twice - at critical junctures in the movie - is "You are my Sunshine," the official state song of LOUISIANA, that was penned by a real LOUISIANA governor: Jimmie Davis, who lived to be 101 years old and lived in THREE different centuries ! As Durning's character walks into the radio station in the movie, one of his assistants mentions " . . . every parish and precinct . . ." involved in his election campaign for governor.
The ONLY state where there are "parishes and precincts" is LOUISIANA - all of the other 49 states have "counties and precincts" as their political subdivisions.
The flooding of the valley recalls the TVA in Tennessee.
There must be more references that others know about concerning their state or area. I for one would like to read about those too, so please submit them !
ok most people seemed to like this movie, but personally I hated it. I know it is a parody of the Oddysey, but i didnt notice too many similarities. Also, the whole idea that three guys break out of a chain gang seeking treasure and somehow manage to create a blue grass band that becomes very well liked just doesn't make much sense. The fact that the whole movie has blue grass music in it does not do much for me. I have heard it has been recognized for its music, but if you aren't a big bluegrass fan, then this moive can be somewhat of a turn off as it was for me. I don't really care for George Clooney in a not serious role. I think he is a very fine actor in Oceans Eleven, but as a convict, he isn't too convincing. This movie recieved two and a half stars from ebert and roper or whoever and frankly i would have to agree with the rating. To me, O Brother Where Art Thou was simply a mediocre movie.
I haven't seen many of the Coen Brothers' films, although one of the two I
have seen is one of my favorites ("Fargo"), and the other I've seen is one I
don't care for very much ("O Brother, Where Art Thou?"). One of the films
has a lot of humor, the other doesn't. One of the films is extremely
entertaining; the other is just sort of boring.
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is a retelling of Homer's "Odyssey," or "Homer's Odyssey," since you never see the title without the name preceding it anymore; Homer's name is practically part of the title, now. Am I digressing?
It starts with three runaway convicts, Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturro), and Delmer (Tim Blake Nelson). Everett - as his chumps call him - has a strange fascination with his own hair, and Dapper Dan hair cream. "I'm a Dapper Dan Man!" he proclaims after being offered another brand of hair cream by a store clerk (who unfortunately doesn't carry Dapper Dan but looks as if he couldn't give a hoot either way). And, in another one of the film's few funny scenes, we see local police picking up a trail on the threesome after a bloodhound finds a tin can of Dapper Dan and a hairnet lying by a diminished fire.
The trio has escaped from jail in hopes of finding an ancient treasure not delved into by the film so very much. Along the way they meet an odd assortment of characters, including a black guitarist who sold his soul to Satan so that he could learn to play guitar; a baby-faced criminal trying to make a name for himself; and a bulky thief (John Goodman) who steels what little fortunes the men have achieved by singing on the radio under the combined name of The Soggy Bottom Boys.
Along the way they also encounter Everett's wife (Holly Hunter), who claims he was hit by a train, tells her seven children this, and refuses to acknowledge him as her husband. With the law in hot pursuit of them, the boys have only their brains to fall back on - and they don't have much of that available for use.
The plot's not the problem with the film (per se). It has fun with itself; the bluegrass music is perfect for the film and makes you feel like you're in Mississippi. The problem is the way the film has a million different ideas going on that it never seems able to make sense of. The film takes spiritual detours that pay off at the end, but nothing is ever truly resolved. In one scene towards the overdue finale, Everett gets down on his knees and prays to God to deliver them from their doom. Suddenly a gigantic tidal wave roars through and demolishes their surroundings, leaving them alive and bobbing on the water's surface.
I've read "The Odyssey," but even with all its weirdness in mind I don't remember it being this weird. It's been a while, yes, but I don't remember a giant tidal wave and I certainly don't think it belongs in a feature film with enough wasted ideas. At least `The Odyssey' was weird for a reason `O Brother, Where Art Thou?' could certainly do without the strangeness.
Every time George Clooney is on-screen you'll be having some minimal amount of fun at least, but when he's gone and the film takes its time rooting through some unimportant sub-plots, it gets to be a real bore. It's not even two hours long but it feels like it's three.
The plus side? Depression-era Mississippi comes alive, and in some scenes the dry filming makes you thirsty for a glass of cold water. Not only that, but just as in "Fargo," the Coen Brothers are able to make us feel a sort of attachment to the characters - but even with Everett's funny infatuation with hair gel, he's not in the same league as Marge Gunderson, and he never will be.
The first time I saw this movie in 2000 (the year of its release), I absolutely hated it. Back then, perhaps I was expecting something too close to "Fargo." Maybe I just wanted something better. So with last night's repeat viewing, I made sure I wasn't expecting anything. I made sure I put away all pretensions. It still didn't impress me.
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?" does have some good parts, but for being a comedy it certainly doesn't have very many laughs, and for being a lightweight, uplifting drama it seems too caught up in darker ideas that don't need meddling with. And, apart from everything else, it's just plain weird. It's a whole lot different than "Fargo," which might sound good since change is often welcomed from director(s). But whereas M. Night Shyamalan's "Signs" was different than "The Sixth Sense" in a delightfully splendid way, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is sort of like George Lucas' latest installments into the extended "Star Wars" series. They may be different, but they're definitely not any better.
- John Ulmer
Based on homer's Odyssey, we follow Everett Ulysses McGill and his
companions Delmar and Pete as they escape from a chain gang so that McGill
can get home to his family. Along the way they must deal with sirens, a
bible selling Cyclops, Babyface Nelson, a campaigning Governor, a Klan
lynching party and a blind prophet.
This is another of the Cohen brothers `different' projects - basically meaning that nothing will make a great deal of sense and won't always follow logical paths but will be full of imagination and energy. The story won't always be gripping unless you know Ulysses' original adventure. If you do then the story will be a joy, as you recognise the parallels between the two tales. Even if you don't there is plenty to enjoy here, the story is so full of funny, imaginative and original characters that you can't help but be drawn in. From Badalucco's Babyface Nelson (`Oh George, not the livestock'), to Durning's Pappy, everything is handled with such an edge of surrealism that it's captivating.
Clooney has never been better and is truly excellent here with his eccentric hick character with a taste for hair cream. Turturro is also excellent, but Nelson's childlike Delmar is the best character and a great performance. Hunter is as good as she usually is in Coen stuff and the support cast of Durning, Goodman, Badalucco etc are all great. The music is fantastic, even if you not a fan of this type of music it still fits so totally with the mood of the film that it all works well together.
This is a wonderful film - yet another from the Coens. It has it's slow moments and the episodic nature of the story can sometimes give it an aimless feel, but overall this is significantly better than the sum of it's many great parts.
This film makes Clooney. All his films combined before this have all been based on the same character. This film he transcends his previous body of work and proves his capability as a top notch actor. The soundtrack defeats most one-handedly. The brothers have truly made a classic. One to own and watch repeatedly.
I rented this movie purely because it was rated by IMDB as 7.8/10. Boy, was I disappointed! I thought the music was the best part, much better than the humor. I started it one night and gave up. I came back the next day and tried to finish it and gave up again. I thought it was a real waste of time. Although I could see lots of of attempts at humor (A guy breaks off a dead branch from and tree and smacks an idiot in the face with it. His buddy watches this happen and sits still while the guy then bashes this second guy in the face. Some of the food he was eating flops out of his mouth as he falls [a little funny THERE] over. Maybe it picks up in the last half hour. Don't say no one tried to warn you.
Earnest effort which achieves some success to adapt the classic Odyssey
story to a '30's nostalgia period piece. The adventurers this time are
escaped convicts, wandering about the Depression afflicted South
bungling their way into trouble.
The greatest strength of the film is the wonderful music soundtrack, effectively evoking not only the era that this is set in, but the spiritual references that run rampant in the film. Besides its value to the tone of the movie, the music is just plain fun to listen to.
What cripples the film is that the characters really aren't that likable. In a comedy, you need that element in order to have fun along with them in their misadventures. Instead, we have a bunch of selfish, arrogant, soulless, mean spirited nobodies who really have no positive points at all. They're not imposing enough to make you hate them either, so it's hard to relate to them at all. They're offered up as clowns, but like people who put clown makeup on and march in parades, they just aren't funny.
Like the story that inspired it, the movie takes these guys on an "odyssey," encountering a variety of symbolic (some even mystical) characters. Everybody is stamped with offensive stereotypes, the operative word being "stupid." People are mocked right and left, and consequently, no one is left being particularly interesting or appealing. The movie doesn't like its own characters, and it doesn't let you like them, either.
Riverside baptisms, beautiful sirens, stolen cars, fistfights, radio preachers, people being whipped with sticks; all are thrown at you in disjointed fashion. Some evoke a few laughs, others confuse or bore you. I did laugh when a nerdy guy beat the snot out of an especially obnoxious lead character. But there were a lot more pointlessly gratuitous scenes; an example: some '30's Dillinger-type guy strafes cows with a tommy-gun. Comedy? Symbolism? No; just mindless violence, which detracts from the intellectual nature of the original source material this story draws upon.
Other adaptations of the Odyssey are much better. Unless you're a George Clooney fan, rent something else. But buy the soundtrack CD; the music is great.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Although not a big Coen brothers fan, I am an admirer of their dark
humor films like 'Fargo' and 'Miller's Crossing.' I have been much less
impressed by their other comic mode, goofy-camp (or is that Camp
Goofy?) Unfortunately, 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' falls into the
latter category and isn't even as good as 'The Big Lebowski' or 'The
'O Brother' is basically an episodic series of in-jokes without much point, and not all that much humor or cleverness either. As most reviewers have noted, the film's plot is very loosely and, as far as I could tell, quite arbitrarily based on The Odyssey. Its main character, Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney), is an 'adventurer' like his Homeric namesake and has as his 'real' goal the return home to prevent the marriage of his wife Penny to a suitor. Of course, we don't discover that this is what the Clooney/Ulysses character really wants until long after we've stopped caring. And what does Homer have to do with "Cool Hand Luke" chain gangs, Ku Klux Klan meetings a la "Indiana Jones" cult gatherings, a disbarred lawyer's vocabulary, a talent for blue-grass country music singing, an association with Baby Face Nelson, a Clark Gable lookalike hairdo, and other random and sundry character traits and encounters? I leave that for others to discern.
The allusion to Preston Sturges' 'Sullivan's Travels' in 'O Brother's' title is equally pointless. Yes, viewers familiar with the Sturges minor screwball comedy classic might find it mildly rewarding to recognize the title of the socially conscious Depression movie Sullivan abandons Hollywood and comedy hoping to make. And they might even be mildly amused by a couple of shot/scene riffs (e.g. hopping freight cars, and the chain gang shuffle into view a movie). But so what? The Coen brothers don't seem to have anything to add to the art-for-art's-sake versus moral high seriousness critical debate about the function of art. They obviously fall into the former school, but that doesn't seem to motivate the reference in the slightest. Is it an homage? If so, why make it? I like post-modern pop culture reference and textual play as much as the next person, but it's a lot nicer when it amounts to something at least tonally, if not thematically, consistent and not just an arbitrary concoction.
This screenplay is simply a silly mess. The only consistent, and consistently pleasing, element is the folk/country music soundtrack. It doesn't have much to do with Homer or Preston Sturges, but, considering the rest of the film, that's probably a good thing. On the other hand, I'd recommend using the price of admission on the soundtrack CD.
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