Leningrad Cowboys Go America (1989)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Leningrad Cowboys Go America Photos

Movie Info

The odd comedies of Finnish director Aki Kaurismaki may be an acquired taste, but it is one which more and more people are getting. The story concerns the exploits of an extremely inept but dedicated troupe of accordian musicians, "The Leningrad Cowboys," whose sheer awfulness puts SCTV's Schmenge brothers in the shade. In fact, in order to stop having to listen to them, a local record producer advises them to go to America, and paints a glowing picture of the success they will enjoy there. These eight Finnish lads (seven living, one very frozen corpse) are dressed as they think true hipster musicians should be (ducktails, sunglasses, fur coats, pointy-toed shoes), and they head off for New York. There they encounter yet another wise guy, who sends them off to Mexico by car to play at his cousin's wedding (he apparently hates his cousin). Along the way, they get bookings wherever they can, learn American music styles, and get along fabulously (by their reckoning).
Action & Adventure , Art House & International , Comedy , Drama , Musical & Performing Arts
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
Criterion Collection


Jim Jarmusch
as Car Dealer
Silu Seppälä
as Leningrad Cowboy
Richard Boes
as Rock Promoter
Sakke Järvenpää
as Leningrad Cowboy
Mauri Sumen
as Leningrad Cowboy
Mato Valtonen
as Leningrad Cowboy
Nicky Tesco
as Lost Cousin
Kari Laine
as Siberian Chauffeur
Frank E. Johnson
as Car Dealer/Houston
as Engine Thief
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Leningrad Cowboys Go America

All Critics (5)

An immensely funny film

Full Review… | July 20, 2003
Spirituality and Practice

Quote not available.

September 21, 2005

Quote not available.

July 24, 2005

Quote not available.

October 15, 2003

Quote not available.

July 30, 2002
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

Audience Reviews for Leningrad Cowboys Go America


A hilarious film that deserves more fame than The Blues Brothers. With this work Kaurismaki made a timeless comedy that will last for ages.

Jace Labat
Jace Labat

Hilarious! This is just one more reason to adore Kaurismaki.

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

Imagine a Finnish Jim Jarmusch directing a no-budget remake of "The Blues Brothers." That's the feel of this 1989 cult comedy, which manages to be both deadpan and slapstick in equal doses. The Leningrad Cowboys are a large Siberian group who play traditional polkas. They favor dark sunglasses, exaggerated Winklepicker shoes and ludicrous quiff haircuts that make Lyle Lovett look like Richie Cunningham. They sail overseas after a local record exec rejects them but advises that Americans "swallow any kind of crap." The group arrives in New York City, bringing along a coffin containing a bassist who recently froze stiff in the cold. Quick to prey upon the Cowboys' golden talents, a promoter books them to perform at his cousin's wedding. In Mexico. He also informs them about "rock and roll," the music that Americans prefer. The group immediately buys some secondhand records and learns this new style. They buy a giant black Cadillac (the junkyard dealer is Jarmusch himself) and hit the road for Mexico. On the way, they pass through the Deep South, playing bizarre gigs at rundown bars and clubs. Standards like "Rock & Roll Is Here to Stay," "Tequila" and "That's Alright, Mama" form the bulk of their repertoire. Their musicianship is reasonably solid, but the vocals are hopeless. Most of the humor is provided by the band's shady manager Vladimir, who buys them onions for meals while hiding a private stockpile of beer. Igor, the village idiot from their homeland, adds some mirth as he haplessly trails the group, hoping to give them an oversized fish he caught. "Leningrad Cowboys Go America" is short (78 minutes) and doesn't have much of an ending. Its humor is amusing rather than funny -- this is the sort of movie where you rarely laugh, but steadily smile. However, the tale has a unique, alien charm that balances its flaws. Note to readers who shun foreign films: The band members do speak broken English, and subtitles are not required beyond the opening minutes.

Eric Broome
Eric Broome

Super Reviewer

Leningrad Cowboys Go America Quotes

There are no approved quotes yet for this movie.

Discussion Forum

Discuss Leningrad Cowboys Go America on our Movie forum!

News & Features