The Coen brothers (Ethan produces, Joel directs, and they both write) haphazardly deconstruct Homer’s The Odyssey
in Depression-era Mississippi as a cartoonish comedy with bluegrass music and cotton fields the color of egg yolks. This shaggy, episodic story follows three chain gang escapees (George Clooney, John Turturro, Tim Blake Nelson) as they set out to unbury a cache of stolen money. Along the way they get nearly torched by a posse, seduced by Sirens, beat up by a cheerful one-eyed Bible salesman, banned from Woolworth’s and record a hit song. The Coens (Fargo
, Raising Arizona
) are mischievous filmmakers, but the ferociously one-dimensional characters here make this muddy ramble more of a guilty pleasure than a success.