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Overall Rating

Awesome: 7.03%
Worth A Look46.88%
Average: 28.91%
Pretty Bad: 7.81%
Total Crap: 9.38%

10 reviews, 68 user ratings

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Ladykillers, The (2004)
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by Erik Childress

"Welcome Back Joel, Ethan and Tom! Your HUGE Laughs Were Needed!"
4 stars

You know how you feel when an extended length of time goes by and you haven’t had your favorite glass of wine in a restaurant? OK, perhaps I should say steak or even pizza, since most of us are probably used to more mass consumption than a beaujolais. But that’s what the Coen brothers are; a fine wine that’s needed a little time to breathe before they could return to the form that drove them to be some of the most creative filmmakers of our time. Sure, they’ve chosen the great purist’s no-no (the remake) for their next project. But if all updates or “re-imaginings” were this great, crow would be extinct.

The Ladykillers is based on the 1955 British Ealing Films classic which boasted a cast including Alec Guinness, Herbert Lom and Peter Sellers. Big shoes. So now we have Tom Hanks in the Guinness role as Professor Goldthwait Higginson Dorr III (Ph.D), who has taken an ad out in a newspaper looking for crooks to help knock over a riverboat casino in Mississippi.

In answering the ad, the characters are subjected to the Coen Bros.’ own version of the standard “introducing the team” montage. By that I mean stripping away the conventions and making each segment more ridiculous and fall-down funny until you start reaching for the asthma blower. Gawain McSam (Marlon Wayans) works at the casino. Garth Pancake (J.K. Simmons) is a explosives expert who doesn’t seem to know the first thing about dogs. The General (Tzi Ma) with his Hitler mustache comes off like he’s read “The Art of War” one too many times. Then, we meet Lump “The Brute” Hudson (Ryan Hurst) in the funniest football field sequence since the Marx Bros.’ Horse Feathers.

Under the guise of musicians, the septet have taken up temporary residence in the basement of Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall) since a little digging through one of her walls will provide perfect access to the casino vault. Marva is downhome Southern; a widow who bothers the local police about the loud “hippity-hop” and refers to her late husband in the present tense. The Professor charms her with “Ed Garallen Poe” poetry (as he pronounces it) and as long as no one smokes in her house, she’s fine with a little gospel music late at night.

As you could probably guess, despite everyone well enough on the job this is going to be more Small Time Crooks or Disorganized Crime than Ocean’s Eleven. But the Coens don’t telegraph everything for us and when they do, they manage to throw an extra surprise onto the end of the scene. By knowing the original or being an educated guesser from the title, one knows where the film is headed but is only a small part of the hilarity in store.

It is official. I don’t want to know anyone who actively dislikes Tom Hanks. It’s a sign of implied hipness, flying-in-the-face of popularity to be that one guy in the room. Truth be told, Hanks is, has and will be ‘til the end of his days, one of the most consistently challenging and entertaining actors of his time. War, space, deserted island, gangster, prison guard, American simpleton. No matter what the setting or the character, very few resumes are as scattered and rife with creativity as Hanks’. We know he’s the spotlight and he still proves to be one of the most generous actors you can find. Already saddled with the Coens’ thesaurus-laden dialogue and Col. Sanders’ look, Hanks can and does play the Professor with as restrained an over-the-top performance can be and still somehow comes off like the straight man in the room.

Hurst plays “The Brute” as if he’s still getting hit in the head. Tzi Ma has very little dialogue and nails scenes just by staring. Marlon Wayans does a variation on his Don’t Be A Menace… parody and his constant bickering with Pancake never gets stale. Half that credit (and probably more) goes to the amazing J.K. Simmons, who you may remember stealing scenes in Spider-Man. Here he gets to steal every scene, constantly introducing new quirks to his sincere affability, spouting knowledge as if he were Cliff Claven from Cheers and spouting other things which are best left unmentioned, although he’ll be sure to fill you in.

And don’t be surprised next year if you hear Irma P. Hall’s name mentioned amongst the supporting actress list. She manages to make her stereotyped “big mama who hits people” role seem fresh again. Plus when you have the support of someone like Hanks (on-screen and on the interview circuit), you can never count an old gal out.

Oh how great it was to see this level of comic insanity again from the Coen Bros. after the disappointment of last year’s Intolerable Cruelty. It’s on par with The Big Lebowski and O Brother Where Art Thou and in many ways surpasses both of them in laugh terms alone. This is the hardest I’ve laughed at anything since Looney Tunes: Back In Action last November. Some slow bridges here and there almost seem like deleted scenes that made it back into the film. However, they are there to provide a little breather in-between every comic bit that provides at least one major haha. Plus, you can never rule out any little quirk that the Coens bring to the table, because they may just come back to catch you off guard. Few films in 2004, if any, will make you laugh harder than The Ladykillers.

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originally posted: 03/26/04 16:58:18
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User Comments

11/10/18 Keith P. It was okay. I discovered it on TV. I liked seeing Oscar-winner Hanks ham it up. 2 stars
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. Don´t 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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