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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 Rob Gonsalves

"Wrongly considered the worst of the Coen filmography."
4 stars

"Professor Goldthwait Higginson Dorr" is a wonderful name for a conniving smoothie, and Tom Hanks plays the role like a man who relishes nothing so much as unfurling that majestic name.

In The Ladykillers, Hanks is looser and funnier than he has been in quite some time; he affects a triumphantly baroque Mississippi accent and speaks with the utmost hilarious precision, as if his every sentence were a dewy lover leaving the folds of his bedsheets. It's a fully imagined comic performance to match that of Alec Guinness, who played the analogous role in the original 1955 comedy from the Ealing Studios. I can't remember the last movie character so charmingly in love with the sound of his own voice.

This Ladykillers comes courtesy of Joel and Ethan Coen, whom some may consider above something so base as a remake. But the original story (like Assault on Precinct 13) allows for any number of retellings; the true star of both movies is the premise. In both, a band of criminals hole up in the home of an elderly lady, under the pretense of practicing chamber music. They plan to pull off a big heist, but the old lady gets in their way. Except for the mastermind (Guinness in '55, Hanks in '04) and a big, brainless bruiser (Danny Green then, Ryan Hurst now), the criminals in the remake don't correspond much to those in the original; there's no callous Herbert Lom figure in the Coen film, or an equivalent to Peter Sellers' Cockney layabout. The new group includes a hip-hop janitor (Marlon Wayans), a demolition man (J.K. Simmons), and a stoic combatant (Tzi Ma).

The old lady in the original was a twittering dear thing with a habit of reporting imagined oddities to the police. In the remake, Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall) is a formidable black woman as comfortable handing out slaps upside the head as serving cookies. The Coens' script is a little foreshortened; those familiar with William Rose's 1955 scenario will miss the circular logic that allows the police to disregard the old lady's story (in the remake, she reports a neighbor's loud "hippity-hop" music). Still, Irma P. Hall makes a strong foil for the inept thieves, especially Marlon Wayans, who at the moment of truth -- as in the prior film, he's drawn the short straw and has to eliminate Marva -- is undone by sentimental thoughts of his mama.

A character who picks the worst possible time to have bowel problems may seem a bit too scatological for the Coens' refined tastes. But then these are the same pranksters who had thugs pee on Jeff Bridges' rug in The Big Lebowski ("That rug really pulled the room together, man"). A scene involving self-defense at a donut shop (with the instant-classic line "Get your fingers out my man's nose!") had me laughing well after it was over. Ryan Hurst, as the aptly named Lump, gives us one of those hyperbolically stupid Coen characters, introduced in a highly entertaining idiot's-point-of-view scene on a football field. Even a cat doesn't escape the morbid Coen touch, providing this darkening comedy with its final brilliant sick joke. (A barge passing under a bridge, as in the original, serves nicely as a means to dispose of inconvenient objects.)

Tom Hanks presides over it all, looking and acting supremely happy to be there, like previous stars who've blossomed under the Coens' jurisdiction (Nicolas Cage, Jeff Bridges, George Clooney). The Ladykillers is worth seeing just for the moments when the quick-thinking Professor Dorr, never less than exquisitely solicitous, moves heaven and earth to explain to his suspicious landlady why money is floating around the root cellar, or lends his golden pipes to a recitation of Poe, or attempts to calm a gun-waving Marlon Wayans by pointing out that such behavior reflects badly on his colleagues and may present itself as unseemly to their fellow patrons of the Waffle Hut.

I can well imagine the Coens guffawing as they wrote the dialogue for Professor Goldthwait Higginson Dorr, and Hanks cackling as he first read it, and myself laughing when I hear it on the sure-to-be-overplayed DVD.

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originally posted: 12/27/06 09:51:55
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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. 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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