What if Homer's Odyssey were written by red-neck hicks in the early half of the 20th century? What if Homer had a penchant for drinking to much corn liquor? Better yet, what if the Odyssey were written by Mark Twain? You'd have O Brother Where Art Thou.
VERY loosely based upon Homer's Odyssey, O Brother follows the adventures of three escaped convicts during the depression, as they journey across the Mississippi countryside seeking fortune and redemption. However, unlike the Odyssey, O Brother's characters are not only particularly dim witted, but don't appear to actually go anywhere either. Rather they seem to spend most of their time wandering about in the woods of their own backyard, driving in what appears to be nothing more than a gigantic meandering circle. Not much of an odyssey.
Strangely enough, the Hobbit finds the film most akin to a junior high school play he once wrote at the tender age of 12, in which the big punch line was "that's not a q-tip, that's a syringe!". Not particularly inspired comedy boys. Of special interest though, is the performance of George Clooney, who appears to be the only person in this film incapable of acting. O Brother's writers saw fit to give Clooney's character deliciously robust and insightful lines, filled with skepticism and keen observations about life, love, and laughter. Clooney delivers these with all the emotion and excitement of a crack whore asking for a tip... and the film suffers for it. There is some attempt to poke fun at the foibles and idiosycracies of human behavior, but Clooney botches the whole damn thing! His companions however, do not suffer from this disability and bring a real sense of life and lovable idiocy to the film, resultantly saving the film from fading away into the doldrums of bitter and dispirited filmmaking.
O Brother is not particularly funny, you may chuckle once in awhile, you may find it weird, but the Hobbit finds it doubtful that you'll even once really laugh hard out loud. As a human interest story though, O Brother has some real heart, in telling a simple and somewhat fantastical tale of simple men in a simpler time on the road to success unlooked for.
It is quite likely that this film will appeal most to those of you reading this review in your overalls, or to those of you who wish you had some. So if its a lonely Wednesday night and there's nothing on TV, grab a jug of moonshine, pull up your rocker, and rent O Brother Where Art Thou. Just make sure you don't return it late... its not worth the fees.
Award Nominations: Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, 73rd Annual Academy Awards (at least they had the sense not to nominate Clooney)