O Brother, Where Art Thou?

Bomb Rating: 

Is there really a point to any Coen brothers film?

Did the Coen brothers actually think that anybody would remember anything that happened in Homer's "The Odyssey" and be able to relate it to this film, which is based on it? For Christ's sake, I don't remember what happened in "All the Pretty Horses" and I saw that last week.

As they are wont to do, Joel and Ethan treat this film as an opportunity to take center stage in the circus of the intellectually obtuse. Not only is this based on Homer's classic work, but it's set in the Depression era and is basically a musical. The quest of the film is Ulysses Everett McGill's desire to get back to his wife (Holly Hunter) and stop her from marrying another man. In order to do so, he's got to escape prison. As part of a chain gang, he convinces Pete (John Turturro) and Delmar (Tim Blake Nelson) to go with him, convincing them that he's buried some treasure.

I'm not sure what this means, but the Coens claim to have based this on "The Odyssey" without actually having read it. I guess what they're trying to say --besides "literature sucks" -- is that the film takes classic elements but doesn't synthesize them to the point where the average jackass can't comprehend what's going on. I guess the Coens realized that far more people have read the Cliff Notes to "The Odyssey" than the actual book and, shrewd marketers that they are, made a movie just for them.

Is there really a point to any Coen brothers film? They seem to come up with a couple lines of snappy dialogue and then figure out a way to design an entire film around that. Watching a Coen brothers film is like almost getting into an accident on the freeway. It catches your attention for a moment, but then you forget it ten seconds later.

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