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O Brother, Where Art Thou? Review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 4.0

    out of 100

    Generally favorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 0

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    Why would filmmakers with this much talent work this hard to thumb their noses at everything they put on screen?

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    Chicago Tribune Michael Wilmington

    A wildly original movie with astonishingly varied moods and influences.

    Read Full Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 14+

Teens might enjoy this offbeat Odyssey adaptation.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this comedy with its outlandish characters, infectious musical score, and slapstick action sequences has multiple levels of appeal. As for issues of concern for teens -- there are lots of swear words ("son-of-a-bitch," "hell’s bells," "whore, and "Goddamnit"), many racial slurs ("nigras," "crackers," "darkies"), and a mind-bending Ku Klux Klan musical sequence. Characters (and a few animals) are frequently in jeopardy: trapped in a burning barn, beaten with a tree branch, threatened with hanging, shot at, chased, and more. The racial satire may provoke questions about the United States' history of racism that parents should be prepared to discuss.

  • Families can talk about the story of the Odyssey. How does this movie transform the original story?
  • Talk about the symbolism of fire and water throughout the movie. What do you think it means?
  • What is the United States' history of racism and how have things changed (or not) over time?

The good stuff
  • message true3

    Messages: This film reminds viewers that nostalgia cannot be used to conceal the truth. What appears to be a comic, light-hearted look at the U.S. South almost a century ago in fact uses satire and irony to reveal the deep-seated racism, corruption, and amorality rampant at that time and in that place.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: No one is safe from the Coen brothers’ jaded perspective in this movie. People in politics, commerce, the arts, law enforcement, and religion are all painted with broad strokes as unscrupulous, conscienceless, and illiterate. Even the heroes of the story have a very thin moral code.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: All action is exaggerated and cartoonish. Characters fall out of a train; get trapped in a burning barn, crash through a wall of fire, engage in fist fights, and are involved in numerous vehicle accidents. The heroes are fired at with an automatic rifle, whacked in the head with a tree branch, whipped, threatened with hanging, and forced to rob a bank. The Ku Klux Klan captures an African-American musician and drags him toward a noose. A villain squashes a toad in his bare hand.

  • sex false1

    Sex: In one scene, mythical sirens dressed in very little clothing beckon the heroes and begin a seduction which concludes off-camera.

  • language false3

    Language: Frequent swearing and harsh language throughout. Multiple uses of: "damn," "Goddamnit," "son-of-a-bitch" (also pronounced "sumbitch"), "hell," "whore," "ass," "fornicate," "Jesus." Ethnic slurs are heard often: "colored," "nigra," "darkies," "Jews," "crackers," etc.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: One character chews a cigar. A flask that may contain alcohol is passed.