“I don’t want to debate you, Jerry”


‘Words to the wise from ‘Fargo’ — In my humble opinion, the Best Coen Brothers Film and quite possibly the Best Film by Anybody Ever.’

Like zillions of other Americans (and even unAmericans) I can’t get that Debate out of my head. It was like watching a train wreck. With sniffling. Was I the only one who wanted Lester to hand The Donald a tissue? But just because I’m thinking about it doesn’t mean I’m going to write about it. I’ve built a big ole politics-impermeable wall around LutheranLiarLand.

But the whole idea of a ‘debate’ got me to thinking about a scene from my Favorite Coen Brothers Movie (and Favorite Movie, Period): ‘Fargo’. (Feel free to click on IMDb or the Times to brush up if you need to.)

Now, there quite a few of you ‘Big Lebowski’ fans out there. And granted, the Coen Brothers Film Featuring The Dude has its attractions. A character named ‘The Dude’ being a big one. (See one of my many stories under the tab ‘Life with His Dudeness’ or jump to this one if you like.)

the Dude abides. Here he is, doing his bowling thing with buddies Buscemi (also pictured at top in Fargo) and John Goodman

The Dude abides. Here he is, doing his bowling thing with buddies Buscemi (also pictured at top in Fargo) and John Goodman

And those Coen Boys have made a ton of other let’s say ‘different’ films. Some I love, some not so much. Like, there’s ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?’ Several of my most esteemed family members (including my Mother) adore it. But seeing George Clooney obsessively combing his hair left me cold. And don’t forget les Freres Coen also brought us ‘No Country For Old Men’. Four Oscars, that one got.

My personal favorite, aside from ‘Fargo’, of course, has got to be ‘Burn After Reading’. What’s not to like about watching Brad Pitt play a dim health club guy called Chad Feldheimer? Well, if you’re offended by the Eff Word, you may wish to avoid this one. The Brothers C reached into their bag of profanity and did some liberal sprinkling, especially when John Malkovich is on the screen. Brace yourself and watch a blue sampling, if you dare. (I, ahem, love both Malkovich and his use of the Effing Eff Word.)

But back to ‘Fargo’. It’s the one about the guy who hires a couple of hoods to kidnap his wife so he can steal the ransom money to get himself out of the financial trouble he’s made for himself at his father-in-law’s car dealership. If that sounds complicated, trust me, it’s not really. And, like any Coen Brothers creation, it really isn’t just about that.

Fargo: cold calculations that go horribly, heatedly wrong

Fargo: cold calculations that go horribly, heatedly wrong. Plus fun accents

Fargo’s got violence — there’s that kidnapping, you know, and a couple of shootings, and (how could we fail to mention) a gruesome scene involving a woodchipper and a white sock. And it has sex (sort of). There’s a hilarious scene involving Johnny Carson and a couple of hookers who describe the Buscemi Bad Guy as ‘kinda funny looking’. Which, darn it, he is.

The hookers perk up when asked about their high school: 'Go Bears!'

The hookers perk up when asked about their high school: ‘Go Bears!’

I love this movie so much and watch it so often that I can practically do the movie, complete with accents. (It helps that I grew up in the Midwest, where most everybody talks that way all the time. And they’re not being funny. Not trying to, anyway.)

Yes, I believe in watching movies more than once, a practice that The Dude just doesn’t ‘get’. ‘You know how it turns out,’ he’ll say. But I say there’s more to enjoying a movie than knowing how it ‘turns out’. I see something new in The Godfather every time I watch it. (Hmmm, maybe that is the Best Film by Anybody Ever. Close call.)

I just get in the mood to watch ‘Silence of the Lambs’ or ‘All About Eve’ or ‘The Women’ or ‘Singing’ in the Rain’ or ‘Gladiator’ or ‘Woodstock’ or ‘Jaws’ (all movies I’ve seen many many times). After all, I tell Dude Man, you’ve listened to, say, the Chopin Etudes more than one time. Touche! (And hand me that remote!)

Oh. In case you thought I forgot, the scene pictured at the top of this post (and the one I was reminded of by so much ‘debate’ sturm und drang) is where Jerry meets the Bad Guys in a bar to discuss kidnapping his wife for the ransom. (Memorable bit: why don’t you just ask your father-in-law for the money, Jerry?) They haggle a bit over whether they get money up front or just — wait for it — the tan Sierra — and then Buscemi goes “I’m not going to debate you, Jerry.” With an extra little snarl on the word ‘debate’.

I guess I’ve watched Fargo, oh, at least once a year in the twenty since it’s been out (yup, it was released in 1996). If you were here, yes, I’d ‘do’ the whole thing for you. Even if you didn’t ask me to. So much fun, those accents. But I bet you’re glad you’re there, and I’m here. And that, instead, you can just (if so inclined), watch this piece I found on YouTube:

“There’s more to life than a little money, you know,” says Marge. Even more to life than being President, I’d like to add.

See you next week, and thanks for stopping by. “It’s a beautiful day,” as Marge would say.

New York City. September 2016

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

22 thoughts on ““I don’t want to debate you, Jerry”

  1. drallisonbrown

    This reminds me of my husband’s family who speak similarly to the Fargo characters. They are from Wisconsin. Although I am not a huge movie buff, there are certain movies that, if I happen upon them while flipping channels, it’s next to impossible to keep flipping: Top Gun, Officer and a Gentleman, and Elf, to name a few. Glad I am not the only one who doesn’t like O Brother Where Art Thou! I was beginning to think there was something wrong with me!

    • So glad I am not alone on the ‘O Brother’ issue. (The title is perfect as far as I’m concerned, since that’s exactly what I think when someone mentions it!) Literally EVERYONE ELSE in my family, which is a big family, loves this movie. And when they are not loving the movie, they are loving the soundtrack. Exhausting!

  2. Unbound Roots

    I live here in MN, ya know, and you betcha the accents are alive and well! My mother tends to mix the MN accent with a little bit of the Swedish accent. She used to be hassled at work (in a good-natured type of way) for her “Oooh-yaaaas” and “You betchas”. You know it’s bad (or good?) when I notice her accent, because she, of course, raised me. Oh and I went to high school in White Bear Lake and our mascot was a bear. We thought it was hilarious when the “Go Bears!” scene was revealed in “Fargo”. It was just perfect. Ha!

  3. I don’t remember much of Fargo… the wood chipper scene you can’t forget, though. Of course. But I would recommend the first season of Fargo the FX TV series— works so well on its own, with great acting and writing… season two, not so much.

    I didn’t catch most of the debate; ya can only take so much.

  4. I must admit, I have seen nearly enough Coen Brothers films, like none that readily spring to mind. Sorry! Does it count that I have DVR’d “The Big Lebowski” more than once, even if I haven’t made time to actually watch it yet? John Goodman is one of my favorite actors and I think is one of the C Brothers’, too.
    I will also admit that I watch way too many “reality” shows, which, in their weirdness that can inspire some sort of out of body experiences, you might say resemble the Debate. I also prefer non-fiction to fiction, for similar reasons. It makes me laugh when I say to myself “You know, you really can’t make stuff like this up”, though maybe the Coen Brothers can!

    • Hah! What a great comment, hbsuefred! I totally get what you mean by your ‘can’t make this stuff up’ comment. But I betcha you’d like the Brothers C, since their stuff seems taken from reality shows (!) Thank you for chiming in. And yes, you might want to make time to check out ‘The Big L’. It’s actually pretty hilarious, even if it isn’t my all-time fave.

    • I (gulp) haven’t caught the TV series yet. I’ve been afraid to, since I love the movie so much. But now I’m tempted to give it a try. Thanks so much! And I adore #weekendblogshare

  5. Uh oh. I’ve never seen Fargo and I liked Oh Brother! (I liked the analogies to The Illiad and Oddesy and the Soggy Bottom Boys). Perhaps I’ll go watch Fargo now. I didn’t watch The Debate, either. Just caught highlights from it today. Just listening to Trump and all his interuptions made me want to throw things,

  6. judy robbins

    I loved “Fargo”, too, Alice, despite a family being wiped out on the highway. Great movie and I bought the DVD so we can watch it as many times as we want. Disliked “O’ Brother…” very much. So we could have a great time watching movies on your couch.

I'd love to hear from you