Fargo (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Cara of Silver Screen Serenade. Thanks for being a part of this project, Cara! (and Happy Blogiversary). 🙂 Now let’s see what she has to say about Fargo, IMDB rank 127 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list of remaining films HERE. See the full list & links to all the reviews that have already been done HERE.

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I have a confession to make: I’m not a huge fan of the Coen brothers. I’ll pause to let the many, horrified gasps die down…

Everybody good? Because yep. I said it.

Admittedly, I haven’t seen all of their allegedly best stuff (i.e. The Big Lebowski, No Country for Old Men, Inside Llewyn Davis, etc.), but what I have seen has gotten a mostly “meh” reaction out of me—the one exception being O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which I find quite wonderful. But I wanted to watch Fargo because I was very curious about the FX series based on the film (and starring Martin Freeman, whom I adore). So when Miss Mutant’s list popped up and Fargo was a choice, I snatched it up. Was it a worthy choice? Let’s talk about that, shall we?

Fargo (1996)

Directed by Joel Coen


Frances McDormand
William H. Macy
Steve Buscemi
Harve Presnell
Peter Stormare

Music by Carter Burwell

Running time: 98 minutes

Plot synopsis: (via IMDb)

Jerry Lundegaard’s inept crime falls apart due to his and his henchmen’s bungling and the persistent police work of the quite pregnant Marge Gunderson.

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What I liked:

  • The accents. They. Crack. Me. Up. I don’t know what it is about Northern Midwest American accents, but I find them completely hilarious. I think it stems from my longtime love of the movie Drop Dead Gorgeous. Have you guys seen that? It’s wonderful. Or maybe only I think it’s wonderful. Whatever. Point is, the accents in Fargo are just as funny.
  • The actors. William H. Macy as bumbling, seemingly nice guy Jerry Lundegaard, Steve Buscemi as lusty, overly talkative henchman Carl Showalter, and Frances McDormand as clever, very pregnant police officer Marge Gunderson. It’s a bizarre cast of quirky characters, and they’re all fantastic.
  • Not only are many of the individual characters great, but the relationships are great, too. Marge and her husband, Norm (John Carroll Lynch), have the most adorable marriage ever. Tough Marge goes to work to keep the town safe while easy-going Norm enters painting competitions. They have meals together—big meals since pregnant Marge is constantly hungry. They fall asleep watching TV. Then there’s Carl and his strong, silent partner, Gaear. Definitely not as cohesive a relationship (as anyone who has seen the end of this film knows), but they’re a pretty funny odd couple. There are a lot of opposites like these in the film, and it works well.
  • The setting. There are more snow-covered scenes than you could possibly think to count, and it gives the film a very unique vibe. This is a place dominated by winter for a good portion of the year, and it shows.
  • The fact that some of these things actually happened. Fargo makes a big show of proclaiming itself a “true story” during the opening scene, which is embellishing—the plot and the characters are completely imagined. However, some of the events are taken from real-life, reminding us what a bizarre world we live in…
  • The wood chipper scene. Gruesome and severely twisted, but…lol.

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What I didn’t like:

  • Aside from Marge, it seems like no one in this town has more than a brain cell apiece. I realize this is supposed to be for comedic effects—and there are several moments when it’s very funny—but c’mon…no one else is even remotely intelligent? It seems like there ought to be at least a couple more characters in there who aren’t brain-dead.
  • A person gets shot in the head, and it’s very “eww.”
  • There’s a very random, very bizarre scene involving a hotel room hook-up. It’s supposed to be funny, and I guess it kind of is, but part of me couldn’t help thinking, “Wait, what purpose does this scene have?” And dovetailing off of that…
  • At one point, Marge meets up with an old high school buddy, and things get downright awkward. Again, the scene is so random and unnecessary that I was a little confused about why it made it into the film in the first place. Stuff like this happens so often in Coen films. In fact, can we just all agree to start calling throw-in scenes like this a “Coen?”
  • The ending. Marge gives a great speech toward the end that I fully expected to be followed by the closing credits, but the film goes on a bit longer, making you think maybe it’s leading to something more…and then it ends. It’s a bit of a letdown. Coen films do that a lot, too, don’t they? Hmm. At this rate, we’re going to have to start calling a lot of things a “Coen.”

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Despite my qualms, I did enjoy this film. It’s a quirky, funny crime film that is bursting with personality, and it certainly doesn’t hurt that the performances are superb. Plus, the “true events” aspect of this film adds an interesting layer—even if the truth is super stretched. I still don’t like this one better than O Brother, Where Art Thou?, and I think I actually might prefer FX’s Fargo series to this, but I’d still say this film is worth a watch.

My Rating: 8/10 (Probably an A- or so on my rating system)

Thanks for letting me partake, Mutant! You’re the coolest!

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58 thoughts on “Fargo (1996) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

  1. Love this film! It’s my favorite Coen brothers film. Yes, it has some quirky scenes, but I find them so endearing after having seen this so many times.

    Great review Cara!

    • Thanks, Jenna and/or Allie! Haha. Happy to hear we have so much alike in regards to this one! And, yes, I agree–the FX show is really great. I caught most of it, and I think I actually enjoyed it more than the movie!

  2. Great review. I will agree that Drop Dead Gorgeous is awesome. The scene in the hotel diner was to show that Mike guy was lying about his wife. Based on that information, Marge knows that Jerry was lying about Shemp Proudfoot and goes back to investigate further. Also I thought the movie ending right after her one speech would be kinda quick. We need to see Jerry get arrested.

  3. i loved how the film ended. i thought it was perfect that marge and her husband are lying together in bed and she says ‘you know, we’re doing okay’. it’s a triumph for the ordinary over the eccentric, and proof that despite the fact some people thought the film was making fun minnesota types, it in fact is a celebration of the place’s solid, but quirky, midwestern values. i also loved the fact that the film is called “fargo”, but it doesn’t actually take place in north dakota at all (except for the opening scene). great review, cara.

    • Thanks, Alex! I guess I don’t hate the scene–I just don’t totally get the point, I guess. Sometimes, I think the Coen brothers are quirky simply for the sake of being quirky. 😉

  4. The Coen brothers can be really hit and miss. When they hit they hit hard but when they miss they can go really wide of the mark. Intolerable Cruelty was terrible. Fargo is definitely a hit though. Oh and I love Drop Dead Gorgeous. Apparently they sound like that because the original settlers were Scandinavian so their accents have kept the intonation of the vowels.

    • Oh yeah I agree with you on Intolerable Cruelty. I’d say the same for Burn After Reading. Another DDG fan?! Omigosh this is making my night! Hahaha. Thank God for Scandinavians. Who knew they would inspire such a hilarious accent?

  5. Great great review of a Coen picture I have yet to see! My parents have loved it for years, so I should probably give it a whirl at some point. I do like their signature dark humor.

    • Thanks, Tom! Oh, no–I hope I didn’t ruin too much for you!! Haha. I tried not to cover too many spoilers. You should definitely check it out though. It’s a good one! 🙂

  6. Great review Cara! It’s cool to see that we both share the same favourite film from them even though you’re not as big a fan of the duo as I am. I really like Fargo but prefer O Brother, Where Art Thou?, which is absolutely delightful.


  7. This is a movie I didn’t like on first seeing it. Coen movies tend to have that effect on me. I now consider it a classic though, if not one of The Coen Brothers best.

    • Whoops! Delayed response! Hi, Craig! I feel like this is the kind of film that the more you watch it, the more you like it. I’ll have to give it another watch in a while and see if my grade for it goes up. 🙂

      • yes I really advise you do that… its better second time around… another one that’s like that is A Serious Man.

      • Not really…I hated it on first viewing, but second time around I appreciated it a bit more. If you’re a Coen fan, its in my opinion not one of their best. But worth a look for completists.

  8. Great review Cara! Glad you liked or sorta liked the movie. You can def see the similarities with the show now right? Martin definitely does Macy’s character justice in his portrayal. What do you think of the Marge vs. Solverson character?

    • Thanks, Melissa! I did like this one! And I can totally see the similarities with the show. Martin Freeman is right up there with William H. Macy, that’s for sure. Loved both of their takes. As for Marge vs. Molly…I think Marge wins, just because she’s the boss from the beginning, y’know? But I still really liked Molly, too. 🙂

      • Ok good glad you liked it! I am sure when the show comes back you will like it even more now that you saw the movie. 🙂 True me too I have to say Marge wins, Molly annoys me sometimes, but I guess she is just doing her job. lol

  9. Pingback: Blogiversary Bash: A Patriotic Tribute with Drop Dead Gorgeous | Silver Screen Serenade

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