Fargo (1996)

DVD Cover (Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer)
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Overall Rating 79%
Overall Rating
Ranked #179
...out of 20,626 movies
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Jerry, a small-town Minnesota car salesman is bursting at the seams with debt... but he's got a plan. He's going to hire two thugs to kidnap his wife in a scheme to collect a hefty ransom from his wealthy father-in-law. It's going to be a snap and nobody's going to get hurt... until people start dying. Enter Police Chief Marge, a coffee-drinking, parka-wearing - and extremely pregnant - investigator who'll stop at nothing to get her man. And if you think her small-time investigative skills will give the crooks a run for their ransom... you betcha! --TMDb
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Review by Tristan
Added: December 30, 2007
Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a down-on-his-luck car salesman, devises a plan to scam his wealthy father-in-law/boss (Harve Presnell) out of a fine chunk of cash. Through one of the men in the body shop, he has hired two criminals (Peter Stormare & Steve Buscemi) to kidnap his wife, make a ransom demand, then hold her until they can split the money and each go their separate ways. Not the most creative of plans, but more or less idiot proof granted it's handled by the right people.

Jerry tries to obtain the money from his father-in-law with no success. Things only get worse for poor Jerry when the car he gave to the criminals off his lot is pulled over by a state trooper for still having dealer plates. After a botched bribe attempt, and a short - albeit bloody - car chase, three people are dead and starting to draw attention from the local police force. Early the next morning, Marge Gunderson, (Frances McDormand) the seven month pregnant local police chief, is out investigating the triple homicide. While she might sound a little dull, she's no fool, and quickly pieces the crime together and tracks it back to a certain auto dealership run by our good friend Mr. Lundegaard.

There is a reason why Fargo was nominated for, and received a handful of awards. It's that damn good. It may very well be the perfect movie. You can argue it all you want with me, and I will not budge on the subject. This is the film that really boosted the Coen Brother's influence in Hollywood, and opened the door for them to make a handful of other fantastic films.

Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay and Best Actress weren't exactly handed out like candy back in the day, and winning this really proved something to Hollywood and the rest of the world. It doesn't take a massive budget and crew, and A-list actors to pull off an amazing story and film. The rest of the nominations are nothing to sneeze at either. Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor, Best Director, Best Cinematography, Film Editing, the list goes on. There's just something about the way the Coen Brothers can mix comedy with such a dark and horrible situation that really does it for me. While you can't help but feel sorry for Jerry, or despise Steve Buscemi's character for being such a rat, you will always find yourself laughing uncontrollably at them. No matter how deep poor Jerry digs himself, he can always go just a little bit further. Scattered throughout the film are a handful of scenes of him trying to scam his way out of debt, and hold people off a little bit longer to cash in on his hard-earned "ransom" money, all of which are hysterical and deliberately uncomfortable in the same breath.

This leads to my next rant, the acting. Everyone involved in this movie did a fantastic job, and if I've learned anything from the Coen Brothers, it's that they always seem to pick the right people for the right parts. You don't look at this movie and see Steve Buscemi, or see Frances McDormand. You see Carl Showalter and Marge Gunderson, two people on opposite ends of the law. While McDormand won Best Actress for her performance, my hat must be tipped to William H. Macy. This was the movie that made up my mind about the gentleman. I had seen him before in supporting roles, which while great, wasn't giving him the screen time he needed to show off his talents. I know this is going back over 10 years, but this was really his first opportunity to shine. I've made a point of watching just about everything he's in, and I owe countless hours of enjoyment to this movie. It's almost hard to believe that he really had to fight to get the role of Jerry Lundegaard. I can't imagine someone else trying to do this part. And then there's the fact that "I'm cooperatin' here!" might be one of the funniest lines I've ever seen delivered in a movie.

And now for the bad. You'd think after all that praise, there had to be something I didn't like about the movie. One little bothersome moment, or a plot hole, or even a blooper. Well folks, I shit you not, but there isn't a thing I didn't love about this movie. It's safe to say it is one of the finest movies I've ever seen, and thanks to the amazing performances by everyone involved, I will never tire of it either. It's difficult to review a movie you love so much, because it can lead to a pretty biased review and a few pissed off readers. However, for a movie like this, I think it's safe to say there aren't too many people out there who have watched it and haven't had a great time.

Ginose #1: Ginose - added January 17, 2008 at 10:04am
I watched it and didn't have a great time. A great nap? Yes. But not a great time. 5/10 for a wood chipper and some very amusing charecters.
BuryMeAlive #2: BuryMeAlive - added July 24, 2008 at 6:22am
Another good, but terribly overrated movie.
bluemeanie #3: bluemeanie - added July 24, 2008 at 5:23pm
It's weird -- ten years ago, I would have agreed that "Fargo" is overrated. Now, however, it seems to have grown on me more and I can sit back and see it as a true masterpiece. There's just not anything I can see that is wrong with this picture. It's a well executed story, perfectly acted and it's entertaining as hell. Time has done this one good...and I much prefer it to its remake, "No Country for Old Men".
bluemeanie #4: bluemeanie - added July 24, 2008 at 5:23pm
Oh...I forgot to add...10/10.
Chad #5: Chad - added July 26, 2009 at 1:19am
On the one hand, this was a badass movie, and yes, I'm going to echo the 10/10's that are being thrown about. However, I do have to agree that it is terribly overrated: it's a great movie, but one of the best ever made (according to some)? Not quite. #124 on IMDb's "Top 250"? No way. Best of the nineties (according to Ebert)? Nope.
Crispy #6: Crispy - added April 27, 2010 at 12:37am
I really liked it myself, although I don't know if I'd go 10/10. High 8, low 9.
Lucid Dreams #7: Lucid Dreams - added September 17, 2010 at 3:57pm
Well, I don't want to repeat what everyone has already said. 9/10
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