O Brother, Where Art Thou? 2000 | Movie Watchlist

O Brother, Where Art Thou?

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A trifle suffused with the Coen's trademark snooty hijinks, this mild-mannered comedy about three convicts who flee a Mississippi chain gang in hopes of recovering some stolen loot is actually quite a charmer. The title comes from Preston Sturges'… (more)

Released: 2000

Rating: PG-13

User Rating:4.82 out of 5 (39 ratings)

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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A trifle suffused with the Coen's trademark snooty hijinks, this mild-mannered

comedy about three convicts who flee a Mississippi chain gang in hopes of

recovering some stolen loot is actually quite a charmer. The title comes from

Preston Sturges' Depression-era satire SULLIVAN'S TRAVELS: "O Brother, Where

Art Thou?" is the problem picture an earnest Hollywood director wants to make

before he logs some time on a chain gang and learns that sometimes desperate

people need fluffy pictures like "So Long, Sarong." But the story is loosely

adapted from Homer's Odyssey, with emphasis on the loosely.

Pencil-moustached, pomaded sharpie Ulysses Everett McGill (George Clooney, who

wears his Tyrone Power-ish look with great aplomb), buryer of the

aforementioned loot, is the ringleader of the escapees. The swag's buried

someplace that's about to be submerged as part of a federal hydroelectric

project, so Everett and his cohorts, the simple-minded Delmar (Tim Blake

Nelson) and hot-tempered Pete (John Turturro) — each more slack-jawed

than the other — have only a few days to recover their prize by any means possible. Along the way, they're advised by a blind prophet (Lee Weaver) and

taken in by a treacherous cyclops (John Goodman, as a one-eyed bible salesman)

and some seductive sirens (Mia Tate, Musetta Vander, Christy Taylor), singing

their treacherous hearts out from a rock in a creek. The ex-cons also

encounter legendary bluesman Robert "Tommy" Johnson (Chris Thomas King)

shortly after he's sold his soul to the Devil at that famous crossroad, and

record a hit song with him as "The Soggy Bottom Boys." They fall in with

neurotic gangster Babyface Nelson (Michael Badalucco), and run afoul of local

politicians (Charles Durning, Wayne Duvall) and the KKK, whose broadly comic

antics make for the film's most uncomfortable moments. Often clever but

fundamentally shallow, this shaggy-dog story is greatly enriched by its

extraordinary bluegrass soundtrack, supervised by T Bone Burnett and performed

by a phenomenal collection of artists.