O Brother, Where Art Thou?
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The Coen brothers have produced a series of unusual, bizarre and often brilliant films such as Raising Arizona, Fargo, The Big Lebowski, The Hudsucker Proxy and Barton Fink. Their new film, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, is very much in the broad, comedic style of their early film, Raising Arizona.  But this is really Coen-lite.  O Brother, Where Art Thou? is a pleasing comedy but there's not much to it.  It is the story of three prisoners who escape from a chain gang in 1920's Mississippi and go on a series of adventures as their leader (George Clooney) tries to get back to his wife  (Holly Hunter) and regain some lost treasure.  The other two Con's are played by John Turturro and Tim Blake Nelson.  As advertised, this story is a retelling of Homer's The Odyssey. But the similarities are not overwhelming.  Clooney's character, named Ulysses,  is trying to get back to his wife after a long absence and she is being sought after by a suitor. They meet a one-eyed man (John Goodman) who beats them up, they meet three "sirens", and they are washed away just before reaching home.  But this movie is more like The Three Stooges Meet Ulysses.  There are a lot of sight gags and pratfalls, the best being the attempt by three guys chained together to jump onto a moving train.  There is also a strange musical-dance number involving the KKK.  The similarity of this film to Raising Arizona extends to the appearances of John Goodman and Holly Hunter.  They are good although their roles are not much more than cameos.  Clooney carries this film and does a good job playing the lead character who cares more about his hair than anything else.  He is showing that, unlike some other refugees from TV such as David Caruso, he is making the transition very well.  He has already made such well received films as Out of Sight, Three Kings and The Perfect Storm.  Turturro, a Coen favorite, and Nelson are good too although they do little more than mug for the camera.  The durable Charles Durning appears as the Governor of Mississippi and The Practice's Michael Badalucco appears as a cranky Baby-Face Nelson.  I can't say much against O Brother, Where Art Thou? It was fun but I think maybe Fargo has spoiled me and now I expect too much from the Coen boys.