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O'Brother Where Art Though? (2000)

30th November 1999

During the depression, three convicts escape from a chain gang in order to recover a fortune in hidden treasure before it is lost beneath a newly diverted river.
George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson, John Goodman, Holly Hunter, Chris Thomas King, Charles Durning, Del Pentecost, Michael Badalucco
2
1 Hour 43 Minutes

It's 1937 and Everett Ulysses MCGill is a silver tongued petty criminal who has found himself on the wrong side of the law and in a chain gang in Mississippi. When he hatches a plan to escape he needs to bring along his chained companions and decides to cut them in on a buried fortune. Unfortunately, they have three days to reach the hidden treasure before it is lost for ever when, in the name of progress, a river is diverted over the area.

So begins an epic journey across three states hotly perused by the law. However, their simple journey gets more and more complicated by the day. Things soon start to go wrong when they pick up a blues guitarist who's sold his soul to the devil in order to play better than anyone else. Running low on cash they decide to make some extra money by cutting a record at a local radio station and thus, unwittingly, expose America to a new sensation in the form of the "Soggy Bottom Boys".

With the extra money to help them on their journey their car soon breaks down and leaves them to, yet again, continue on foot. However, they are soon on the move when they meet and join bank robber "Babyface" on the run from the law. However, Babyface suddenly becomes depressive and leaves all of his ill gotten gains to the group and wanders off into the night. Flushed with cash they continue their journey only for it to grind to a halt when they come across a trio of very sexy singing ladies washing their smalls in the river...

The picture is bright and crisp with an above average bit-rate and no visible signs of artifacting. The picture has also been washed out to give it an authentic look for the period, and quite effective it is to with some break taking cinematography to which only a widescreen television can do justice to. However, during the initial escape scenes the picture is so sharp it becomes obvious that the escaping trios attempt to board a moving train is a little suspicious to say the least.

The sound is just as interesting with some imaginative use of the surround channels, especially during the moments of the film when the trio are being pursed by the authorities. The dialogue is crystal clear in the centre without any bleeding to the other channels, and there was never any need to keep correcting the volume levels. However, it is the many musical interludes where the sounds shines the most with a marvellous amount of richness and charity. This is especially apparent during the cutting of the "Soggy Bottom Boys" record, although it looked pretty clear to me that George Clooney's singing was dubbed.

The extras are reasonable enough with an interview with the cast and crew along with the usual collection of trailers and television spots. The animated and scored menus are in keeping with the subject of the film and make a pleasant change from the unimaginative and static menus of other recent films. There is one extremely annoying "feature" with this film. Not only does it default to the pro-logic soundtrack, but the English sub-titles are also enabled.

This is fine road trip film that is certainly in a different direction to the teenage aimed Road Trip. Although claimed to be a comedy it was certainly not as funny as Road Trip or the classic Trains, Planes and Automobiles and I felt a little short changed after all the hype about the comedy elements. However, George Clooney and company put in a fine performance and it just goes to show how versatile he can be.

  • Cast and Crew Interviews
  • Original Trailer
  • Television Spots
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