Movie Review: O Brother Where Art Thou? (2000)

Posted: December 3, 2011 in Comedy
Tags: ,

O Brother Where Art Thou

Three convicted felons, Everett (George Clooney) Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar  (Tim Blake Nelson) break out of prison and away from the chain-gang in Missisppi. Everett tells the others that he has buried a million dollars near his childhood home, and he will split it with Pete and Delmar, if they help him get it. The first place they head off to is Pete’s cousin Wash’s (Frank Collison) place.  Wash fixes them a nice meal of horsemeat and sets them in up in a barn, he also reports Everett and his cohorts  to Sheriff Cooley (Daniel Von Bergin)  After escaping the sheriff with Wash’s son’s help  Pete and Delmar get baptized by an itinerant preacher Everett passes.  Then the trio picks up a guitar player Tommy Johnson (Chris Thomas King) who thinks he’s made a deal with the devil for his guitar talent.  The quartet now records a Bluegrass song as the Foggy Bottom Boys.  It is outside the radio studio that they first meet Governor Pappy O’Daniel (Charles Durning) who’s running for a second term against reformer and friend of the little man Homer Stokes.

While trying to escape from the sheriff, the boys meet up with three Sirens, after the encounter, Pete is missing, and Delmar is convinced that Pete has been turned into a frog by the Sirens.  The frog is later crushed by travelling Bible salesman Big Dan Teague (John Goodman) in reality, Pete has been captured by the sheriff.  Pete tells the sheriff the location of the treasure in return for sparing his life.  Later, Everett, Pete and Delmar save Tommy from the Klan.  From there, the Foggy Bottom  Boys perform for the Governor and his opponent, Everett’s ex-wife Penny (Holly Hunter) and his fiancé, Vernon T Waldrip (Ray McKinnon) are also in attendance. Does the popularity of the Foggy Bottom Boys win the boys their  freedom ?  Does it help Everett win his wife back?

I don’t know how to classify this movie, a buddy film, a movie about redemption? Is it a laugh out loud comedy?  Is it a movie that tackles serious issues like racism and political corruption? It is all this things, and even more, the music is so strong in support of this movie, a mix of bluegrass and gospel. that the soundtrack actually helps to tell the story,  thematically.  The acting is top notch despite George Clooney’s constant mugging and propensity to overact. John Turturro who I’m used to seeing as a gritty, urban type, is flawless as a Southerner Tim Blake Nelson is pitch perfect as the simple, almost childlike Delmar.  Charles Durning is hilarious as the stereotypical Southern politician, I could almost see him sipping a mint julep. In a bit of satire, the Coen brothers make Clooney an image obsessed pretty boy, constantly asking for hairnets Dapper Dan hair cream.  This is a movie to savor, and enjoy on many levels, so go ahead.

O brother Where Art Thou.  A brother from two other brothers, named Coen.


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