Joel Coen and Ethan Coen (writers and directors) O Brother, Where Art Thou? / 2000
You can almost hear the Coen boys giggling when they prefaced their comedic masterwork, O Brother, Where Art Thou?, with a translation of the opening line of Homer’s The Odyssey, "O Muse! Sing in me, and through me tell the story..." The story they tell is not exactly Homer’s, but it has enough clever parallels to please almost any classicist and peak the interest of almost any literate moviegoer.
A later hitch takes them back through the chain gang, where they discover Pete has again ended up, having divulged the fact of the treasure and their destination. By this time, however, the movie has grown so giddy (at least its creators have) that the hero admits it has all been a grand whopper; there is no treasure! He was arrested not for stealing but for passing himself off as a lawyer, and his goal all along has been to return to and reclaim his own Penelope, Penny (Holly Hunter), a woman who has told his children that he’d been hit by a train and has taken up with Vernon T. Waldrip, an effete man who, we later discover, is involved with the Ku Klux Klan.
It hardly matters that behind this new adventure lies a couple of battling governors right out Finian’s Rainbow (one of them the Grand Dragon of the Klan). The adventurers, transforming themselves once again into singing sensations, win the day for the good old boy incumbent, outing the would-be upstart. A full pardon is granted, but before the boys can let out even an Hallelujah, Everett’s Penelope proclaims she will not take him back until he has retrieved her ring!
Los Angeles, February 21, 2001