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O Brother, Where Art Thou?

TELL ME, O CRITIC, of that ingenious actor who traveled far and wide after he had removed himself from the famous hospital drama. Many films did he partake therein, and many were the roles with whose manners and accents he did attempt; moreover he suffered much by a perfect sea while trying to become an action star and bring in the mega paycheck; but do what he might he could not shake his love of the quirky film, for they proved critically appealing through their artistry and were worthy of much praise; so the public prevented him from abandoning his continuance in these critical favorites. Tell me, too, about his new film, O Brother, Where Art Thou, and if this latest quirky film is worth our time and hard earned drachma.

And let it be said that I did see the new George Clooney vehicle, O Brother, Where Art Thou, and that it was odd. That it be odd was a forgone conclusion from the outset due to the writing and direction as they came from the wonderfully imaginative Coen Brothers, they who gave us Fargo in an earlier year.

But by the Gods, this baby's weird, even for them.

There are some critics who have placed this film on their top 10 lists for the year. There are others who have placed it on their bottom 10 lists. I place it on neither. It was...interesting.

The story is very loosely based on the Greek epic, The Odyssey. Very loosely. George is Ulysses Everett McGill (Get it? Ulysses? Roman name for Odysseus? Not sure where Everett or McGill come from, but Odysseus only had one name, so they didn't have a whole lot to go on). As the movie opens, George has just escaped from a prison chain gang in the Deep South with two buddies, John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson. They want to make it across the state to dig up some treasure that George buried before he was caught. They only have four days to do it because after that the state will be flooding the valley in which the treasure is buried in order to create a man-made lake to support a new dam and their treasure will be under oodles and oodles of water.

Along the way, they meet people.

And everybody sings.

The Coens happily sprinkle parallels to The Odyssey all through the flick. George and Co. meet up with the Sirens, Circe, the Cyclops, The Phaeacians, and other characters from the story. It's quite the literary treat. It's also quit the musical treat.

George sings. And we're not talking some weak-throated Don Johnson warble or a guttural Bruce Willis ditty, but really sings. With a clear pipe and a steady tone. But not just George, but John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson, and a whole host of other supporting characters. There's so much singing going on, this flick's dang near a musical. The soundtrack's got more old time feeling in it than the Reverend Al Green, but it struck me as one of those albums you buy and love for about one week, and then goes the way of your Fuel CD.

But is this a good movie? Well, it's certainly fun to watch. The story is completely unpredictable, even if you know The Odyssey by heart. It's entertaining to look at the film, and to listen to George spout off in a very distinctly Coen way. But it just isn't totally satisfying; it's the kind of film where it ends and everyone just goes, "Huh."

If you're totally in to saying "Huh.", then I recommend this film. If you're looking for a complete movie-watching experience to titillate and enthrall, you may have to skip this one. An unnatural love of the Coen Brothers is a prerequisite for enjoying this movie, so be warned.

When push comes to shove, O Brother, Where Art Thou gets 3 Babylons. Not great, not horrible, not everyone's jug of moonshine.

Editor's Note:

How clever. Just so you know, I didn't even try to edit the first part of this review (since the SMC ripped it off), so I apologize in advance for any grammatical errors Homer's editor may not have caught.

O Brother, Where Art Thou?
Rated: PG-13
Directed By: Joel Coen
Starring: George Clooney, John Turturro, Princess Nausicaa, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Calypso, Holly Hunter, Menelaus, Charles Durning, Stephen Root, Telemachus, Chris Thomas King and Eumaeus the Swineherd.

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