MPAA Rating: R

Entertainment: +3

Content: -3

This bizarre, gruesome murder mystery is actually based on a true story, stranger than most fiction. It's about Jerry Lundegaard (William H. Macy), a married man with a young son, whose seemingly insurmountable debt makes him desperate. He concocts the idea of having his wife kidnapped so his wealthy father-in-law, Wade Gustafson (Harve Presnell), will give Jerry the ransom money. Jerry hires Carl (Steve Buscemi), a less than brilliant thug, and Gaear (Peter Stormare), a brooding psychopath, to do the kidnapping. Things look good until Carl tries unsuccessfully to bribe a state trooper. Gaear shoots the trooper and two other people who happen by at the wrong time. Sheriff Marge Gunderson (Frances McDormand), seven months pregnant, has only the dead trooper's written citation with a description of the car to start her investigation. But the car leads her toward Jerry. This murder mystery and it's sometimes humorous characters, set in snowy Minnesota, keeps you rooting for Marge, the low-keyed, Columbo-like sheriff.

Unfortunately, the producers chose to give Carl a foul mouth, to include two gratuitous sex scenes, and to fill the violent scenes with blood and gore. Carl alone is responsible for almost all of the 80 plus obscenities. Although prostitutes provide the sheriff with clues when she interviews them, the unnecessary sex scenes in a motel room include rear female nudity. Sheriff Marge and her artist husband support each other in their very different careers, each willing to share responsibilities at home. But she also uses dogged determination in following clues to sometimes gruesome scenes. Beside the graphic shooting of the trooper, Jerry's father-in-law is repeatedly shot when delivering the ransom. Carl is also shot in the jaw, leaving a bloody wound. The two hired kidnappers have a violent argument over the ransom money split, which leads to an axe murder and the body fed into a wood chipper. What could have been a likeable movie, FARGO's severe violence and frequent obscenities make it offensive for discerning viewers.

Preview Reviewer: Paul Bicking
Gramercy Pictures, 9247 Alden Dr., Beverly Hills, CA 90210

The following categories contain objective listings of film content which contribute to the subjective numeric Content ratings posted to the left and on the Home page.

Crude Language: Many (16) times - Mild 12, Moderate 4

Obscene Language: Many (84) times - F-word 72, s-word 10, other 2

Profanity: Several (8) times - Regular (GD 2, J 2, C 2, JC 2)

Violence: Several times - Moderate & Severe (woman struggles with kidnapper, fall down stairs, graphic gunshot to head, shooting, choking, shoving, man shot in jaw, shooting, man hit w/ axe, body fed into woodchipper - bloody snow, foot sticks out of chipper, man shot in leg)

Sex: Twice - (unmarried couples in motel w/ female rear nudity)

Nudity: Female rear twice

Sexual Dialogue/Gesture: Crude references to having sex and to male circumcision, discussion with escort girl

Drugs: Alcohol drinking, cigarette smoking

Other: Sheriff's husband supportive, frequent use of slang 'Jeez'

Running Time: Unknown
Intended Audience: Adults

Click HERE for a PRINTER-FRIENDLY version of this review.