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Disenchanted with the daily drudge of crushing rocks on a prison farm in Mississippi, the dapper, silver-tongued Ulysses Everett McGill George Clooney, THE PERFECT STORM busts loose. Except he's still shackled to his own chain-mates from the chain gang -- bad-tempered Pete John Turturro, SUMMER OF SAM, and sweet, dimwitted Delmar Tim Blake Nelson, HAMLET. With nothing to lose and buried loot to regain -- before it's lost forever in a flood -- the three embark on the adventure of a lifetime in this hilarious offbeat road picture. Populated with strange characters, including a blind prophet, sexy sirens, and a one-eyed Bible salesman John Goodman, COYOTE UGLY, it's an odyssey filled with chases, close calls, near misses, and betrayal that will leave you laughing at every outrageous and surprising twist and turn.
Only Joel and Ethan Coen, the fraternal director and producer team behind art-house hits such as The Big Lebowski and Fargo and masters of quirky and ultra-stylish genre subversion, would dare nick the plot line of Homer's Odyssey for a comic picaresque saga about three cons on the run in 1930s Mississippi. Our wandering hero in this case is one Ulysses Everett McGill, a slick-tongued wise guy with a thing about hair pomade George Clooney, blithely sending up his own dapper image who talks his chain-gang buddies Coen-movie regular John Turturro and newcomer Tim Blake Nelson into lighting out after some buried loot he claims to know of. En route they come up against a prophetic blind man on a railroad truck, a burly, one-eyed baddie the ever-magnificent John Goodman, a trio of sexy singing ladies, a blues guitarist who's sold his soul to the devil, a brace of crooked politicos on the stump, a manic-depressive bank robber, and--well, you get the idea. Into this, their most relaxed film yet, the Coens have tossed a beguiling ragbag of inconsequential situations, a wealth of looping, left-field dialogue, and a whole stash of gags both verbal and visual. O Brother the title's lifted from Preston Sturges's classic 1941 comedy Sullivan's Travels is furthermore graced with glowing, burnished photography from Roger Deakins and a masterly soundtrack from T-Bone Burnett that pays loving homage to American '30s folk styles--blues, gospel, bluegrass, jazz, and more. And just to prove that the brothers haven't lost their knack for bad-taste humor, we get a Ku Klux Klan rally choreographed like a cross between a Nuremberg rally and a Busby Berkeley musical. --Philip Kemp