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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.09%
Worth A Look47.24%
Average: 29.13%
Pretty Bad: 7.09%
Total Crap: 9.45%

10 reviews, 67 user ratings

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Ladykillers, The (2004)
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by Scott Weinberg

"Trademark Coens brilliance. Tom Hanks being hilarious. Go see it."
4 stars

It certainly seems like an artistic and potentially profitable coup that the Coen Brothers were able to get Tom Hanks to star in their latest comedy. And surely it won't hurt the movie that it shares a title with a quietly adored old British comedy. But the one thing working against 'The Ladykillers' is that, while it's a great goofball comedy, the movie fans will want to know how it measures up to the Coens' previous efforts. Judged on that scale alone, this new one is a mite disappointing; on just about any other level, 'The Ladykillers' is a dark and hilarious success across the board.

It must be really difficult once you've made 10 or 12 fantastic movies; everyone expects that level to be maintained. So when the Coens decided to go high-end with their Clooney / Zeta-Jones affair, we felt slighted when it wasn't up to the standards of a Fargo or a Raising Arizona. But like I insisted upon the release of Intolerable Cruelty: even a mildly disappointing Coens flick is better than 92% of anything else playing at the multiplex.

So while The Ladykillers doesn't match the brilliant lunacy of a Big Lebowski or an O Brother...who really cares? Judged on its own merits, The Ladykillers is odd and ingratiating and consistently amusing enough to earn your twelve dollar box office donation. Sometimes a solid triple is just as satisfying as a home run, and (thanks mainly to the inspired work of Tom Hanks and some of the patented Coens lunacy) The Ladykillers is, at the very least, a 2-run double.

Spun off from the 1955 Alec Guinness comedy of the same name, The Ladykillers is about four clueless criminals, a sweet-natured old lady, a big pile of cash, and an uproariously verbose ringleader who goes by the name of Professor G.H. Dorr. The conniving crooks, posing as Renaissance Fair musicians, set up shop in granny's old root cellar while scheming to loot the local casino office. Needless to say, their criminal plans go awry. Early and often.

Much of the film consists of your typical heist contrivances, only filtered through the brilliantly twisted eyes of the brothers Coen. But this time the brothers have Tom Hanks as their lead, and it proves a match made in heaven. Mega-huge superstars like Hanks and George Clooney seem to thrive under the employ of the Coens; to call Hanks' performance here 'one of his funniest ever' seems a lofty compliment (hey he's a funny guy), but it is an accurate one. The always-affable Mr. Hanks gets to wrap his tongue around dozens of long and twisty little monologues; the Coens' intellectually amusing verbosity discovers a newfound friend in Tom Hanks. His breathlessly devious performance is a thing of comedic beauty; the words spilling from his mouth are the arcane icing on a mildly misshapen cake.

The brothers are also somehow able to elicit a strong supporting performance from the generally irritating Marlon Wayans, while crafty character actors like J.K. Simmons (last seen as J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man) and Stephen Root (now a Coens staple) steal a few scenes for themselves. Lovable old granny figure Irma P. Hall contributes an excellent performance; her handful of scenes between she and Hanks are near-priceless.

Special notice is due to Roger Deakins' amazingly lovely cinematography and the resoundingly warm and gospel-heavy score by Carter Burwell. And whoever trained the cat (oh yeah, keep your eye on the cat) deserves a cash bonus, because that skinny little furball earned some solid giggles all by herself.

You could be a 'glass half empty' person and acknowledge that 'The Ladykillers' doesn't measure up to the Coens' finest works. Or you could be an appreciative optimist like myself and acknowledge the fact that, after eleven movies, Joel & Ethan have yet to release ONE sub-par flick. 'The Ladykillers' may not rank among the Coens' most excellent films, but I bet it still ends up as one of this year's best comedies.

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originally posted: 03/27/04 04:37:51
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User Comments

11/06/12 Jeff Wilder Even a mediocre COen Brothers film is better than most,. 3 stars
5/03/12 Monday Morning Quirky, funny, great. Hanks's laugh alone is priceless. 4 stars
12/02/08 Shaun Wallner Thought this was a good film. 4 stars
9/17/08 Stu Hanks is brilliant and the whole film is funny. Donīt know why it gets such a hard time. 4 stars
1/22/08 David Cohen Made me pine for "Bonfire of the Vanities" 1 stars
11/08/07 asg i was one of the few in the theatre who was laughing my arse off. it went past most i guess 4 stars
11/11/06 David Pollastrini HORRIBLE, ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE 1 stars
6/01/06 tatum Very funny, on par with the original 4 stars
11/04/05 Bad Critic Definitely Tom Hanks best performance. 4 stars
3/31/05 Nick Boyd Tom Hanks and Irma P. Hall make this a worthwhile film, though just barely 3 stars
3/25/05 indrid cold Just shows that the Coens are gimmicky and overrated. 3 stars
3/14/05 Landshark outlandish & cartoony, it's looks like homespun farce but plods too slowly. 3 stars
11/12/04 Clatz Didn't find this funny at all, it's a quirky version of something thats been done to death. 2 stars
11/03/04 Jews for Hitler Very boring. There's a scene of Hanks reading a book. Yawn.... 1 stars
10/31/04 DJ Any movie with Tom Hanks is great! 4 stars
10/29/04 Dan If you like "Oh brother where art thou?" type comedic movies, this ones for you! 4 stars
10/11/04 willie I did not care for it 2 stars
9/27/04 Josh Standlee Tom Hanks ruled! Marlon Wayans sucked. 3 stars
9/17/04 Helen Bradley Tom Hanks brilliant too many 'f****' words problems with script 5 stars
9/02/04 Elaine Perrone Glad it worked for you, Dennis. I'm close to giving up on the Coens. 1 stars
8/21/04 ALDO Not really that funny....from the cast i expected better...they talk so much shit 2 stars
8/21/04 john bale Coen Brothers Musical Black Comedy ala "Where art thou" Hanks & Hall good fun together. 4 stars
8/19/04 Peter B. Boring!!! 2 stars
7/09/04 Confessions Of A Teenage Trauma Queen What's that modern boombox doing in a movie otherwise stuck in the 1950s? Almost pty crappy 3 stars
7/06/04 James Kustes This is the type of Coen movie I like 4 stars
7/03/04 Miles Bader Lots of nice bits, but lacks some sort of spark 3 stars
7/01/04 Mikey Crunt Comedykillers!!! Fart is not funny!!!! Phhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh 1 stars
7/01/04 Pants It was shit 1 stars
6/16/04 earl duron Worst Coen film of all 2 stars
6/14/04 de dog i say its ok but i might not see it agin 3 stars
6/11/04 Ron Spin It swore its way into obscurity, I'd swear. 1 stars
5/22/04 CK Pure and utter absolute travesty. Original was way better 1 stars
5/15/04 skye fun. but not oh brother fun. 4 stars
5/05/04 A F ZZZzzzZZZZz Oh OH! Is it over. THat was a nice nap. 2 stars
4/19/04 Robin Swearingen very funny, several allusions to works of literature 4 stars
4/17/04 Jackie The use of the :"f" word ruined what should have been a funny movie 2 stars
4/17/04 Jodie It was awful, save your money and don't waste your time. 2 stars
4/15/04 bob ok 4 stars
4/14/04 Jack Collins We walked out--stupid movie--waste $12.50 1 stars
4/11/04 Peter Funny, yet left with an empty feeling 4 stars
4/08/04 George Jung Close to perfect. 5 stars
4/07/04 gayle Horrible - stereotypical crap, BJU indeed! 1 stars
4/07/04 Kev Pretty damn funny 4 stars
4/05/04 ajay very entertaining. 4 stars
4/02/04 George Jung Almost perfect. 5 stars
4/02/04 toolband this film has an amazing film style and is also very dark.....amazing film 5 stars
4/02/04 Michelle Bennett This movie was entirely too slow and too long. The 'funny' scenes were typcial / expected 2 stars
4/01/04 TC Not the Coens' best, but still hiliarious 5 stars
4/01/04 KingNeutron Slow-moving, but funny and well-executed. The music was awesome. :) 3 stars
3/30/04 Julie I feel like i have lost 2 hours of my life. People left the theatre shaking their heads! 1 stars
3/29/04 Pin The heist genre will never be the same. 5 stars
3/29/04 zeke really good 5 stars
3/29/04 Jennifer B it was ok, it had a tough time getting started but the old lady was really funny 3 stars
3/28/04 mark kick ass 5 stars
3/28/04 Agent Sands Disappointing. Pretty funny, good camerawork, clever heist, otherwise not up to Coen par. 3 stars
3/28/04 mk fun, visually sharp, a good laugh, loved it 4 stars
3/27/04 Bonnie Baker Taken as a spoof and then it's great... 4 stars
3/27/04 buddy garrett a good movie but i am not a coen fan 4 stars
3/27/04 Eric Harker The Coen's are my heroes! 5 stars
3/27/04 AfroFett gross? I second the "best since Fargo" review 4 stars
3/25/04 Mike V Strong start but doesn't have legs. 3 stars
3/25/04 d-fine gross, unfunny, couldn't believe the brothers directed it. Horrid 1 stars
3/25/04 Alien Ink Alien at the Movies, a sneak preview review. 4 stars
3/24/04 earl jam lots of out loud laughing 4 stars
3/20/04 Ray Tom Hanks is great, the movie is great!!! 4 stars
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  26-Mar-2004 (R)
  DVD: 07-Sep-2004



Directed by
  Joel Coen
  Ethan Coen

Written by
  Joel Coen
  Ethan Coen

  Tom Hanks
  Marlon Wayans
  Irma P. Hall
  Stephen Root
  J.K. Simmons
  George Wallace

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