Let's Go to Prison

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Let's Go to Prison
Lets Go to Prison.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Bob Odenkirk
Produced by Marc Abraham
Matt Berenson
Paul Young
Written by Ben Garant
Thomas Lennon
Michael Patrick Jann
Starring Dax Shepard
Will Arnett
Chi McBride
David Koechner
Music by Alan Elliott
Cinematography Ramsey Nickell
Edited by Eric L. Beason
Denis Thorlaksen
Distributed by Universal Studios
Release dates
  • November 17, 2006 (2006-11-17)
Running time
90 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $4 million[1]
Box office $4,630,045

Let's Go to Prison is a 2006 American comedy film directed by Bob Odenkirk. It stars Dax Shepard, Will Arnett and Chi McBride. The film was loosely based on the non-fiction book, You Are Going to Prison by Jim Hogshire. It was released in theatres November 17, 2006.


John Lyshitski (Dax Shepard) has spent most of his life in prison, serving three different sentences (starting when he was eight, when he stole the Publisher's Clearing House van). Each of his three trials were before Judge Nelson Biederman III, who seemed to show no mercy passing down indiscriminately harsh sentences. After being released from his third sentence, John decides to take revenge on Biederman. After trying to determine when Biederman would be presiding over his next case, he discovers (much to his dissatisfaction) that he had died three days prior to his release.

He turns his attention to the judge's brash son, Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett). At a dedication ceremony for Nelson III, John sneaks into Nelson's BMW, where he steals his change, spits in his coffee, and exhausts his emergency inhaler. After the ceremony, Nelson IV yells at his attorney (who has the speakerphone on in the fully occupied board room) clearly upset about having to go through such an ordeal, demanding that they leave him be and have a Fresca ready for him upon his arrival. He drives down the road and, finding his inhaler empty, immediately panics and hyperventilates. He stops at a pharmacy and scrambles through the shelves, desperately seeking some kind of replacement for the inhaler he lost. The pharmacy owners think he's another junkie, seeking some kind of fix. After finding and using an inhaler, he hides behind a counter and holds up the inhaler. The storeowner, however, mistakes the inhaler for a tiny pistol which leads the owners to call the police.

Nelson ends up arrested and charged with assault and armed robbery. After turning down the idea of stepping down and pleading guilty, he demands that the Biederman foundation do whatever they have to do to have him acquitted and released. The board contemplates for a moment, considering asking the governor to get Nelson out. However, as they are sick and tired of his stubborn attitude, they soon realize that this is their opportunity to get rid of him, and conspire to get him a poor defense in trial. With this severely inadequate legal representation, Nelson is found guilty and sentenced to three to five years at Rossmore State Penitentiary. John is not satisfied with Nelson just going to prison, however, so John decides to join him in prison by intentionally selling marijuana to undercover police officers. At his sentencing he pleads guilty to the same judge Nelson IV had, and asks for the same sentence (3–5 years) at the same prison. After negotiating with the judge and bribing a guard, he ends up as Nelson’s cellmate, and here he pretends to be his friend, all in an attempt to give him the wrong advice on surviving life in prison.

While he is in jail, John consistently gives him bad advice and informs him about the people within the prison, including Lynard, the extremely violent leader of The White Kingdom, a white supremacist gang in the prison.

Somehow, Nelson gets himself out of a numerous array of jams. He soon meets gang leader Barry (Chi McBride), a hulking, burly gay fellow who basically rushes Nelson into a relationship with him. Despite his fearsome appearance, Barry has the heart of a true romantic beating within his massive, hairy torso – he likes smooth jazz (Chuck Mangione is a favorite of his), he plies potential romantic partners with his finest toilet-made Merlot, and he has transformed his prison cell into a candle-lit, rose-bedecked passion parlor. Nelson first submits to being his partner out of fear, and although he clearly has no kind of romantic interest in him, he genuinely grows fond of Barry and just plays along with it.

Nelson reaches his one-year parole hearing relatively unscathed, and actually the "top dog" in the prison. However, John will not allow his target to escape prison so easily: he drugs Nelson and writes "WHITE POWER" on his forehead and a swastika on each side of his neck. This leads to the parole board deciding that Nelson "needs" more time to be rehabilitated. Infuriated, Nelson brings John up on the act; John then confesses to putting Nelson in jail and the two get embroiled in a fight. It is here that John regrets bunking with Nelson when he realizes Nelson has nothing to lose but his will to murder, and John is the target. After an ensuing brawl, the guards set up a death match between the two.

However, John and Nelson secretly conspire and inject each other with a coma-inducing drug. The guards and prisoners believe that they are dead and bury the pair outside in the graveyard. Nelson uses Barry's love for him to his own advantage as he gives his recently released "lover" access to his funds to bribe off the mortician to avoid an autopsy. Barry later digs the two up, freeing them. The three men start a new life and set up a winery called "Baby Duck Winery" (composed of "toilet wine"), where a critic is about to fail their wine. John shows up and forces the critic to give them a good review, and drink the wine. The film ends with Nelson, Barry, and John, now the best of friends, taking a drive along the countryside, listening to Move This by Technotronic.


Production notes[edit]

The defunct Joliet Prison in Joliet, Illinois used for the film is the same prison featured in the beginning of The Blues Brothers (1980) and the first season of the Fox show Prison Break (2005).

During the end credits, Barry sings a song called "Shower With U" (credited as "Barry's Love Theme" on the soundtrack) in which he repeatedly sings "I wanna take a shower with you".

The studio made significant alterations during the film's editing process that made Odenkirk unhappy with the final result (which also happened with the Mr. Show with Bob and David film, Run Ronnie Run, which Odenkirk wrote). According to writers Tom Lennon and Robert Ben Garant's appearance on the Nerdist Podcast from August 23, 2011, changes included a happier ending, the removal of a sparse drums-only score recorded by Meg White of The White Stripes, and other alterations that made a significant change to the overall tone of the film.[2][3][4]


The film received mostly negative reviews, holding a 12% "rotten" rating at Rotten Tomatoes, based on 41 reviews. The consensus states: "Let's Go to Prison is guilty on all counts of cliched setups, base humor, and failure to ellicit laughs."[5] Metacritic gives it a score of 27 out of 100 sampled from 13 critics, signifying "generally unfavorable reviews".[6]

Box Office Mojo reports that the film opened in 11th place with a meagre take of $2,220,050. It closed with a domestic gross of $4,630,045.[7]

Home media[edit]

The film was released on DVD March 6, 2007 with deleted scenes and an alternate ending.[8]

The Unrated version features pre-credits and post-credits scene features a real-life officer[citation needed] giving the details about the film.


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Elliott, Alan (October 4, 2005). "Part 2: Meg White". Alan Elliott's official blog. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  3. ^ "Worst Reviews" Staff (2006). "Let's Go To Prison" WorstPreviews.com. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  4. ^ Hutchinson, Sean (October 10, 2014). "15 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About 'Let’s Go to Prison'", MentalFloss.com. Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  5. ^ http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/lets_go_to_prison/#
  6. ^ http://www.metacritic.com/movie/lets-go-to-prison
  7. ^ http://boxofficemojo.com/movies/?page=weekend&id=letsgotoprison.htm
  8. ^ http://www.movieweb.com/dvd/news/87/16687.php

External links[edit]