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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

movie reviewmovie reviewvideo review out of 4 Movie Review: O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Starring: George Clooney, John Turturro
Director: Joel Coen
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 106 Minutes
Release Date: December 2000
Genre: Comedy

*Also starring: John Goodman, Holly Hunter, Tim Blake Nelson, Michael Badalucco, Wayne Duvall, Charles Durning, Stephen Root, Chris Thomas King

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Review by Susan Granger
2 stars out of 4

Joel and Ethan Coen have built a reputation on their quirky, intelligent, unorthodox films ("Fargo," "The Big Lebowski," "Raising Arizona," "The Hudsucker Proxy," "Blood Simple," "Barton Fink") and this is no exception. Who else would approach Homer's classic "Odyssey" with a Preston Sturges touch? Yet there is is, up on the screen, a road movie beginning with a blind prophet. Set in the 1930s, the story begins as three shackled convicts escape from a Mississippi chain gang: charming, articulate Everett Ulysses McGill (George Clooney), a schemer who's obsessed with his Dapper Dan hair pomade and getting back to ex-wife Penny (Holly Hunter); dumb Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) and moody Pete (John Turturro). Relentlessly pursued by state troopers on their way to find $1.2 million in buried loot, they encounter the Cyclops, embodied in a one-eyed Bible-thumper (John Goodman), and the Sirens, three seductive maidens washing laundry in the river - along with a notorious bank robber, Babyface Nelson (Michael Badalucco), a campaigning Governor (Charles Durning) and the Ku Klux Klan. The title comes from the oft-mentioned film in Preston Sturges' "Sullivan's Travels." To spice up the episodic structure and stolid pacing, there's T-Bone Burnett's tuneful bluegrass music, as the trio joins up with a black guitarist (Chris Thomas King), who sold his soul to the Devil, to cut a hit record as "The Soggy Bottom Boys." While Roger Deakins' photography is visually stylish, there's a fundamental problem: a complete lack of humor. It's a comedy with no laughs. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "O Brother, Where Art Thou?" is a goofy, bizarre 5, appealing primarily to devoted Coen fans who will accept their colorful, absurdist style over substance.

Copyright 2000 Susan Granger

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