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Let's Go to Prison is a 2006 American comedy film directed by Bob Odenkirk and starring 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.

Let's Go to Prison
Lets Go to Prison.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byBob Odenkirk
Produced byMarc Abraham
Matt Berenson
Paul Young
Written byBen Garant
Thomas Lennon
Michael Patrick Jann
StarringDax Shepard
Will Arnett
Chi McBride
David Koechner
Music byAlan Elliott
CinematographyRamsey Nickell
Edited byEric L. Beason
Denis Thorlaksen
Distributed byUniversal Pictures
Release date
  • November 17, 2006 (2006-11-17)
Running time
90 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$4 million[1]
Box office$4.63 million


John Lyshitski (Dax Shepard) has spent most of his life in prison, serving three different sentences. Each of his three trials were before Judge Nelson Biederman III, who habitually imposed resentfully tough sentences. After being released from his third sentence, John decides to take revenge on Biederman. John tries to determine when Biederman will be presiding over his next case, only to discover that Biederman died three days before John's release.

He turns his attention to the judge's brash son, Nelson Biederman IV (Will Arnett). At a dedication ceremony for Nelson III, John breaks into Nelson's BMW, wrecks the interior and empties Nelson's emergency inhaler. After the ceremony, Nelson drives off and, finding his inhaler empty, panics and hyperventilates. He stops at a pharmacy and frantically searches through the shelves, desperately seeking a replacement for the empty inhaler, which he finds and immediately opens to use. The pharmacy owners think he's a junkie seeking a fix. One owner mistakes the inhaler for a tiny pistol and calls the police.

Nelson is arrested and charged with assault and armed robbery. He demands that the Biederman Foundation do everything possible to have him acquitted. The board nearly complies with Nelson's demands, but, as they are fed up with him and his behaviour, they suddenly realize that this is an opportunity to get rid of him. They purposely conspire to provide him with a horribly incompetent defense at the trial. Their (and also John's) plan works perfectly as Nelson is found guilty and sentenced to three to five years in state prison. John, not satisfied with Nelson merely going to prison, decides to join him in prison by purposely selling drugs to undercover cops. At his trial before the same judge Nelson had, John pleads guilty and asks for the same sentence (3–5 years) at the same prison that Nelson is in. He manages to become Nelson's cellmate, pretends to be his friend, and gives Nelson terrible advice on surviving life in prison.

Nelson gets himself out of the many situations that John's misinformation creates. He meets gang leader Barry (Chi McBride), an imposing, brawny gay fellow who coerces Nelson into a relationship. Despite his intimidating appearance, Barry is a sensitive romantic – he likes smooth jazz, he supplies potential romantic partners with his finest toilet-made Merlot, and he has transformed his prison cell into a candle-lit, rose-bedecked passion parlour.

Nelson gets into a mess with the prison's "top dog" Lynard (Michael Shannon), who promises to kill him. Nelson instead gets his hands on a deadly chemical and a syringe with the intent of using it to commit suicide. Before he can do so, however, Nelson is attacked by Lynard in his cell, and just before Lynard can beat him to death he spots the syringe, assumes it to be heroin and injects himself with it, accidentally killing himself and earning Nelson the respect of and authority over his fellow prisoners, who believe Nelson had done the deed. Nelson reaches his one-year parole hearing not only relatively unharmed, but the new "top dog" in the prison hierarchy, after "killing" Lynard. Nelson, who initially submits to being Barry's partner out of fear, grows to care for Barry and willingly plays along with the "relationship" to keep him happy, as well as safe from Lynard's former cronies. However, John will not allow his target to escape prison so easily. He manages to get Nelson's parole denied. Enraged, Nelson confronts John who then confesses to putting Nelson in jail. The two get into a fight. John quickly realizes that he is now Nelson's target. The guards set up a death match between the two. However, John and Nelson secretly hatch a plan to inject each other with a coma-inducing drug. The guards and prisoners, believing that they are dead, bury the pair in the graveyard. Nelson, who had legally adopted Barry to allow him to retake control of the Biederman Foundation, has Barry bribe the mortician to skip the autopsy. Barry later digs up John and Nelson. John, Nelson and Barry begin a new chapter of life, starting a winery (the product being "toilet wine"). The film ends with Nelson, Barry, and John now the best of friends, happily living free life in society.


Production notesEdit

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, Chi McBride in character as 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 meager take of $2,220,050. It closed with a domestic gross of $4,630,045.[7]

Home mediaEdit

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. ^ "Will Arnett Interview - Let's Go to Prison and Blades of Glory". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  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" Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  4. ^ Hutchinson, Sean (October 10, 2014). "15 Things You Probably Didn't Know About 'Let's Go to Prison'", Retrieved October 19, 2014.
  5. ^ "Let's Go (2012". Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  6. ^ "Let's Go to Prison Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 2017-02-22.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-10-23. Retrieved 2011-08-25.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2007-01-05. Retrieved 2007-01-03.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External linksEdit