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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 25.29%
Just Average: 7.39%
Pretty Crappy: 2.33%
Sucks: 5.06%

15 reviews, 167 user ratings

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O Brother, Where Art Thou?
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by Rob Gonsalves

"More goofy fun from the Coens."
5 stars

I sincerely hope that the inventive Joel and Ethan Coen aren't tormented by their biggest success, 'Fargo,' for the rest of their lives.

The Coens have bent over backwards not to repeat themselves; their follow-up to the frozen, rigorous Fargo turned out to be the amiable shaggy-dog Raymond Chandler goof The Big Lebowski, which annoyed some fans because ... it wasn't Fargo. Their new one, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, may already be suffering from non-Fargo-itis (the critics have been unkind). Actually, the most relevant comparison to O Brother in the Coen portfolio is the slaphappy, yodelling Raising Arizona; and, yep, it's not Raising Arizona, either. On its own loopy terms, though, it worked for me.

Someone at Universal decided to give the Coens a lot of money to recreate Depression-era Mississippi, right down to the period clothing on every extra in the crowd shots. If nothing else, O Brother is big Hollywood entertainment seen through an indie lens (which, for this film -- a first for the Coens -- is super-wide Panavision, the better to get that epic feeling). Based, so we're told, on Homer's The Odyssey, the story tracks three escaped chain-gang inmates -- Ulysses McGill (George Clooney), Pete (John Turturro), and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) -- on their quest to find some loot buried by Ulysses ("a million-point-two dollars," we hear repeatedly, in a possible spoof on box-office numerology).

If we're to have an anecdotal sketchbook movie, we might as well unleash the Coens on it; they still bang out the most elaborately eccentric dialogue never heard outside a Coen film (George Clooney grins almost nonstop, aware that he's reading the deftest wordplay of his career since snarling his way through Quentin Tarantino's From Dusk Till Dawn script), and they give their three heroes three movies' worth of vivid, freshly minted characters to run across during their journey. Some, like John Goodman's Cyclops-like salesman and a trio of bathing, bewitching beauties, are imported from Homer and given the Coen once-over; others, like soul-selling guitarist Tommy Johnson (Chris Thomas King) and George "Baby-Face" Nelson (Michael Badalucco), are postcards from the Depression.

O Brother is simply the Coens luxuriating in a period setting and having a great time. Critics who dislike the Coens always slam them for making fun of the characters and worlds they so painstakingly build, but I've never gotten that sense from their work; you either accept the Coens' deadpan-absurdist sensibility or you don't, and their characters, for me, are never quirky just for the sake of quirkiness. Even a borderline-slapstick farce like O Brother, whose most memorable moments include a Ku Klux Klan sequence that suggests an unholy union of Busby Berkeley and Leni Riefenstahl, lavishes care and attention on the kind of faces you'll never see in a typical youth-appeal thriller starring Ryan Phillippe.

Whether it's a man apparently turned into a toad, a picnic that turns into a beating worthy of WWF Smackdown, or a chain-gang brought en masse to a movie and taking their seats in perfect synchronicity, the Coens enjoy every bit of weirdness they put on the screen. They don't make fun of the wall-to-wall bluegrass music, which, as supervised by T-Bone Burnett, comes to seem like the movie's heart and soul, approaching something like grace even when our heroes are singing (as "the Soggy Bottom Boys") while smothered in ridiculous fake beards.

I wouldn't rank 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' as the Coens' best work (for me, 'Miller's Crossing' has yet to be unseated); then again, I wouldn't rank it as their worst, either, perhaps because they have yet to make a "worst" film. Least best, maybe? Let's just say the Coens are still doing what they do, and nobody else is doing anything remotely like it.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1828&reviewer=416
originally posted: 01/15/07 21:03:31
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User Comments

3/24/18 morris campbell good not great 4 stars
8/30/15 FireWithFire EVERY Coen brothers movie pisses on Whites, this one White Southerners ,before the 196660s. 1 stars
2/14/12 Ron Larson great characters, fantastic music 5 stars
10/05/11 Quigley A highly enjoyable film. One of the Coen's best. Loved the Siren scene. 5 stars
11/23/10 JTBrandt.com I don't get what people like about this movie. Jokes were stupid; soundtrack was annoying. 2 stars
6/01/10 User Name The Southern version of the Odyssey. And, suprisingly, it works. 4 stars
1/18/09 mr.mike Virtually unwatchable. 1 stars
9/17/08 Stu Moments of genius but also slow in parts. Not as good as youŽd expect from the Coens. 3 stars
2/09/08 Samantha P i loooove this movie, and the music is awesome, and i hate country music! so entertaining! 5 stars
10/29/07 JeromeBoch Shit smells better. 1 stars
10/10/07 john-paul moore its the best film out 5 stars
2/28/07 Crantor D. Smithen Good premise, painfully rushed and awkward at times. Clooney saves the movie. 3 stars
1/25/06 Jerome Bosch As entertaining as am infomercial, hated the music. 1 stars
12/30/05 Agent Sands One great bit of entertainment. Hilarious, exciting, different. 5 stars
11/10/05 Vina W.O.W 4 stars
9/24/05 D Buckley constant sorrow... 1 stars
8/24/05 ES Kind of a cool song, kinda of a bad movie 2 stars
3/26/05 Jeanne George Clooney's Best - "But you ain't bona fide!" 5 stars
1/21/05 DM Funny shit. "The best thing you ever did for them gals was get hit by that train!" 4 stars
11/26/04 alien assassin the coen Brothers' masterpiece 5 stars
9/25/04 Ken One of the best american movies I've ever seen. Great casting, great musics, wonderfull! 5 stars
9/01/04 Ice Queen Loved it. Hilarious. Great casting. 5 stars
7/08/04 Gray I've been told only a "white male could enjoy this movie" 5 stars
5/30/04 Lindsay Great songs and hilarious, lovable characters! I LOVE it! 5 stars
5/25/04 John they sing a great and bizarre song - the rest is dull and slightly pretentious 2 stars
5/06/04 Ross I bought the soundtrack. 4 stars
5/03/04 Shanette N. Jones different; but great! 4 stars
4/06/04 Uni Girl This is one of many favourite movies for me and all my friends 5 stars
4/05/04 Robin Its awesome.I love that song:im a man of constant sorrow 5 stars
4/05/04 Miss Julie Damn, I love this movie! The Coens deserve a Pulitzer, never mind an Oscar. 5 stars
3/25/04 bikehorn Loved the parallel to the story of Odysseus. Brilliantly written and filmed. Great sndtrk. 5 stars
3/23/04 Kat Bailey Loved it, you have to be a true Southerner to get all the minute references, hilarious! 5 stars
2/19/04 MP Bartley O brother how over-rated and annoying art thou? 2 stars
12/17/03 * An Idiot Who Loves George Clooney* AWSOME GEORGE CLOONEY AT HIS BEST GREAT MOVIE IT FUCKIN'ROX! 5 stars
8/23/03 John Bale A wild happy visual ride with the Coen Bros. Top script and cast 5 stars
8/21/03 Matt Wonderful! A breath of fresh air. Quite infectious. 5 stars
6/22/03 cochese dumb 2 stars
6/22/03 Ashley I loved it ... I love George Clooney ... and hes a Dapper Dan Man!!! 5 stars
5/28/03 Jo Ellis excellent, could watch it over and over again 5 stars
5/17/03 George Jung Anyone who doesn't like this movie can R-U-N-N-O-F-T...or go fuck themselves...whichever. 5 stars
4/11/03 Jack Sommersby Overstated, obvious, and obnoxious. 1 stars
4/09/03 Jack Bourbon I saw this movie while doped-up on cough medicine. I think I was in some sort of trance. 5 stars
1/28/03 Christopher M. Domenick We need this movie. 5 stars
12/30/02 Bob Hardcore Great cinema. Clooney is amazing here. 5 stars
12/30/02 John Aster Habig highly sophisticated slapstick 5 stars
11/27/02 R.W. Welch Not up to "Arizona" but still an enjoyable screwball comedy. 4 stars
10/15/02 Elizaveta we're in a tight spot! 5 stars
10/11/02 andria this movie rocks! absolutely love delmar!! 5 stars
9/28/02 Peter Sherlock I didn't realise Clooney could act. 4 stars
9/03/02 brien George Clooneys best performance since Dusk till Dawn 5 stars
7/29/02 Captain Midol I'm wary of any kind of "updated" classic, but this really hit the mark. Truly amusing. 5 stars
6/09/02 JesseL Excellent. If you know just a little about 'The Odyssey' it means more. 5 stars
6/01/02 Chris Just watch, don't ask questions or think. You'll enjoy it more trust me. 4 stars
4/27/02 Butterbean It's not "The Big Lebowski", but it's visually a treat. 4 stars
4/03/02 Edfink Lombardo Brilliant film with an equally wonderful soundtrack to boot...A true gem of a film 5 stars
4/02/02 El Talboto Excellent picture 5 stars
3/30/02 Film Guy Kick Ass little movie. 4 stars
3/30/02 Film Dude God damn, I never expected this to be so good. 5 stars
3/13/02 Rockitman007 This is one of my all time favorite movies!!!! 5 stars
2/25/02 Crusty For people who have a wandering soul. Funny, feast for the eyes, heartwarming. Top film. 5 stars
2/21/02 Kristi Good Movie! Gotta Love the music too! 5 stars
2/20/02 Xaver Great music. Fun. A little confusing at times. 4 stars
2/01/02 Dar Mulhall Fucking Awesome - soundtrack to match 5 stars
1/23/02 John Wilner It's pure bloodhound shit; another Hollywood lynching of southern white culture. 1 stars
1/15/02 george fountas A superb musical from coen brothers. 5 stars
11/23/01 Andrew Carden Just Not Very Funny, Good Premise Wasted. 2 stars
10/16/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Really funny and cool. 4 stars
10/09/01 Kooler Go for the depression-era detail alone. Bonus: Clooney lampoons his own narcissistic image! 4 stars
9/29/01 The Boy In The Designer Bubble Thought I would hate this movie, but I liked it. The slow witted guy was brilliant 4 stars
9/19/01 JLH One of the best movies Ive seen in a long time. Music, story, atmosphere were great. 5 stars
9/16/01 Bri Loved it. Good music. Wacky. Watch on dvd! 5 stars
9/04/01 Amy Nothing annoys me more than a southern twang and music to match yet I adore this movie!!!!! 5 stars
9/01/01 Butterbean Clooney at his cinematic best! Great cinematography! 5 stars
9/01/01 Tory Loved it 5 stars
8/31/01 spaceworm Saw this the day I found out I didn't have cancer. Talk about in the mood. 5 stars
8/18/01 phil m. afficiando Awesome(-) or Worth Look(+); different and emininently entertaining; fun twists/turns 4 stars
8/08/01 moviegoer I thoroughly enjoyed this film and hope to add it to my collection someday. 5 stars
8/06/01 Joe Zappa I've seen a lot of bad movies in my life.....but this was AWESOME!!!!! 5 stars
8/06/01 E-Funk Clooney's best role,Tim Blake's a riot, Turturro's the man, Coen's win again and again... 5 stars
7/27/01 richy c hey gizzy! maybe you were just suffering a mild stroke? i'm concerned about you. 5 stars
7/22/01 Will that was really good. 5 stars
7/21/01 john klepper loved it 5 stars
7/08/01 R.W. Welch Imaginative road pic with some surreal twists. 4 stars
7/07/01 the scarecrow shutup Gizzy, this film kicks ass 5 stars
7/06/01 Indelusia A great movie. Cohen brothers classic, and George Clooney at his best. 5 stars
6/22/01 Steve Ok... 4 stars
6/21/01 MacShogun Watched it numerous times still great! 5 stars
6/21/01 Gizzy I almost dozed off - it's that bad 1 stars
6/18/01 Monday Morning Fresh, totally original and well done. I also like the slightly dark edge. 5 stars
6/16/01 matt I loved this movie!! It was very well written and directed. 5 stars
6/16/01 liam myers nice feel to it 5 stars
6/16/01 I love movies it is beyond my power of comprehension how anyone could EVER find ANYTHING good about this 1 stars
6/13/01 luket anything that makes fun of the kkk is fucking awesome in my book 5 stars
6/10/01 King Jackass The best movie of the year. 5 stars
6/07/01 e j and Roy Smith are gay together THIS MOVIE RULES!!!!!! 5 stars
6/04/01 MM Did you notice the people who didn't like it can't spell worth a damn? 5 stars
6/03/01 e j Sucks all ass is a sever understatement!!!!! 1 stars
5/27/01 Rudy Lupinski Clever and really enjoyable. 5 stars
5/23/01 W.P.G. It was great! 5 stars
5/07/01 jon graham Best film I've seen in years and the music is addictive. Don't miss it on the big screen !! 5 stars
5/07/01 Mikko Salminen Enjoyable, but not amazing in any way. 3 stars
5/06/01 Roy Smith This movie is proff the Coen Brothers signed a pact with the Devil. 1 stars
4/14/01 Blacker than You Good soundtrack 4 stars
4/05/01 Peeters Valentijn Brothers C rule 5 stars
4/01/01 Maja Fantastic !!! 5 stars
3/25/01 Lim Unn How Meaningful! 5 stars
3/22/01 Kyra J. what can i say, damn, we're in a tight spot for not getting this soundtrack yet 5 stars
3/22/01 JB It cute and funny and sometimes hardcore. 4 stars
3/19/01 vpitman I'm a Coen Bros. fan, but my wife isn't, and we both thought it was great. 5 stars
3/14/01 Big John Holmes A picture that doesn't insult the intelligence or imagination of the viewer. 5 stars
3/08/01 Josue The Insultor This was a superb film. 5 stars
3/07/01 Emily It was very random, but that's what made it so hilarious. Geroge is the best part.mmm.sexy! 5 stars
3/06/01 hum best i have seen for some time for so many reasons 5 stars
3/06/01 Soggy Bottom I havent laughed so hard at a movie in ages one of the coens best 5 stars
2/26/01 Monika Frisby Awesome, very funny 5 stars
2/22/01 weird andy A hoot and a half! 4 stars
2/21/01 sjc two thumbs way way up 5 stars
2/20/01 HughK A charming movie, reminds me a little of the Big Lebowski, but even more episodic! 4 stars
2/20/01 Christopher Novak Best movie in the trailing twelve months 5 stars
2/19/01 Roy Smith I hopw there is a God because now I believe in the Devil 1 stars
2/17/01 dan coen-eriffic 5 stars
2/14/01 www.robotocracy.com The smartest, funniest, most thoroughly enjoyable movie I have seen in a long time. 5 stars
2/12/01 KyLe*BrOfLoVsKi I was sorry when it ended. 5 stars
2/11/01 Brian Genius. Coens' most entertaining film to date. Much better than TBL. We're in a tight spot! 5 stars
2/07/01 ObiWan Not the normal Coen Bro. stuff, but very entertaining. One of the year's best. 5 stars
2/06/01 Frog-Butt Absolutely Genius, Brilliant, and.... Well there be frogs in there :-) 5 stars
2/05/01 Wafer This movie just makes you feel good watching it 5 stars
2/04/01 neil bartlett Refreshing change from most Hollywood crap. Clooney surprisingly good 4 stars
2/04/01 Mike Goodpaster Fantastic. The music was great and so was the show. Hollywood needs more of this. 5 stars
2/02/01 Ericka Lindstrom I'm going to have to read Homer's Odyssey. This movie didn't make any sense to me. 3 stars
2/02/01 john d(THE DUDE) The Coen bros, are movie making gods but it's going to be hard to top THE BIG LEBOWSKI 3 stars
1/31/01 Soggy Bottom Bitch George Clooney, his hair and the double-takes were hilarious, & the music worth downloading 5 stars
1/30/01 Ludolecorse The Apology of freedom 5 stars
1/29/01 Marie This film is so kick ass!! No wonder George Clooney won the Golden Globe for this!!! 5 stars
1/28/01 skye ah'm with you fellers 5 stars
1/27/01 R Kramer This was not Clooney's finest. 3 stars
1/24/01 Kirsten Appreciated it on an intellectual level. Didn't make me laugh out loud, though. 4 stars
1/22/01 Soggy Bottom Boy This is by far my favorite Coen Brothers flic, finally over-throwing Barton Fink! 5 stars
1/22/01 Peter Burris superb romp through meshed iconography! 5 stars
1/22/01 Peter Smith STUNNING! 5 stars
1/22/01 Coen fan Fan-fucking-tastic! 5 stars
1/21/01 MC Cheese The music really makes it! A feel good Coen movie! 5 stars
1/17/01 Thor-Leo Weakest Coen Bros. film yet. Clever dialog but a very long setup for a meager payoff. 3 stars
1/17/01 loser funny saw it 3 times 5 stars
1/17/01 Heather Original, quirky movie, loved the music and cinematography. 5 stars
1/16/01 Dee Please, go and see this film 5 stars
1/15/01 Kip George Clooney is great.. definately a good movie. 5 stars
1/13/01 Phil Some people wont get it, other say it's awesome! 5 stars
1/09/01 Ida Kern Clooney is great in this! A musical and a comedy all rolled in one. 4 stars
1/09/01 Blubberbot me like 5 stars
1/03/01 tnt Boring..painful...and pointless...worst movie Ever!!! 1 stars
1/02/01 Mr. X Funny! Great music! Loved it! 5 stars
12/29/00 frankko dialogue, music, cinematography... all perfect 5 stars
12/29/00 matthew smith quirky and strange, but worth a look 4 stars
12/28/00 El_Duderino Can the Coens ever do wrong?? Seems unlikely. 5 stars
12/15/00 Lorenza Venturi Intelligent, ironic, great music 5 stars
12/12/00 Mr. ZmoXz Great characters!!! 4 stars
12/12/00 cooljo coooooooolllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll cool!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 5 stars
12/02/00 Sebastian Corral This movie is the best comedy I've ever seen! 5 stars
11/02/00 Maria Dolores Valdivia Armental The best film this year, great. 5 stars
10/26/00 Sven Siegle Easy, cool, funny, fantastic! 5 stars
10/25/00 Jens A. Czaplo ... great pictures, great music 5 stars
10/25/00 Schmitt Dirk ... best Odysse in an movie I mind 5 stars
9/26/00 Robin Cooper If you liked The Big Lebowski.... you'll love this 5 stars
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  12-Jan-2001 (PG-13)


  26-Dec-2000 (M)

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