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The Ladykillers

The 2004 Coen Brother's movie

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A VERY Mixed Bag

  • Sep 9, 2004
  • by
The Coen Brothers versus The Ladykillers could be a more appropriate title for this mixed bag of a film. Based loosely (very) on the Alec Guinness classic, this seems yet another outlet for the Coens to parody the South. The plot is known: a fancy speaking Professor of the Ancient Languages (Tom Hanks) gathers miscreants from a small town in the South to rob the quasi-legal money from a gambling boat on the Mississippi. The staging facility is a room rented from a heady gospel-infatuated yet strong willed lady (Irma P. Hall) and from the basement of her house the "Late Renaissance Music Ensemble" band of thieves works their heist. Of course it ultimately fails and evil is punished. But it is the in-between that is supposed to be funny. The actors in the band (Marlon Waynans, JK Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst) try to make the best of a flimsy script, but in the end it is the tour de force work of the stuffy, pompous, fancy talking Hanks and the no-nonsense Hall that save what there is to save from this bit of treacle. The constant deaths, the grotesqueries, the non-stop toilet language all have to be tolerated to make it through. Not one of the best of the Coen Brothers outings.

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More The Ladykillers reviews
review by . April 04, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
So I'm progressing through the Coen Brothers movie panoply and I come here, where once again (as in Intolerable Cruelty (Widescreen Edition) the Coen Brothers rely on a big name lead (Tom Hanks here, George Clooney there) to carry the movie while frankly it seems they coast a bit.    I'd say they should stay away from borrowed material (this is a nominal remake of a 50's crime caper), except for the excellent No Country for Old Men which I know is coming soon in my journey and …
review by . October 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
I felt something a little amiss with this movie as it started.  It started okay, not great but then I saw it and it was a harbinger of things to come....      Tom Hanks......      in a comedy role......using a corny accent.      The last time I remember Tom Hanks with the accent was in The Volunteers, a Peace Corps comedy from years ago where Tom Hanks played a New England blue blood who is escaping his debtors and talked the whole …
Quick Tip by . October 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
The Coen Brothers in a very underwhelming (for them) movie about a silver tougned con man and his gang of criminals to rob a Casino and use an old woman's house as cover. This is not the Coen's best work.
About the reviewer
Grady Harp ()
Ranked #97
Grady Harp is a champion of Representational Art in the roles of curator, lecturer, panelist, writer of art essays, poetry, critical reviews of literature, art and music, and as a gallerist. He has presented … more
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About this movie


Remake of the 1955 film.

If you've never enjoyed Alec Guinness in theclassic 1955 British comedythat inspired it, the Coen brothers' remake ofThe Ladykillersmay well prove hilarious. For starters, it's got Tom Hanks in a variation of the Guinness role, eccentrically channeling Colonel Sanders, Tennessee Williams, and Edgar Allan Poe in his southern-fried performance as Prof. Goldthwait Higgins Dorr, Ph.D. (named after an actual arts institute curator from the Coens' native Minnesota), a deliciously verbose con man who needs a secret headquarters for his five-man plot to rob a riverboat casino moored on the Mississippi. In the film's funniest and least-caricatured role (and even she can't elude the Coens' comedic stereotyping), Irma P. Hall plays the churchgoing widow who rents a room to Dorr, whose crew of "musicians" (in keeping with the original's plot) use the lady's root cellar to tunnel to the casino's cash-rich counting room. Rampant mishaps ensue, the body count rises among Dorr's band of idiots (including Marlon Wayans, spouting nonstop profanities), and the Coens put their uniquely stylish stamp on everything. It's a funny movie, allowing for some nagging flatness to the material, but if you've seen the original (and other vintage comedies from the heyday of Britain's low-budget Ealing Studios), you'll eventually wonder,what were they thinking? Accounting for all the qualities that grace any Coen ...
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Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Genre: Comedy
Release Date: March 26, 2004
MPAA Rating: R
Screen Writer: William Rose, Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Runtime: 1hr 44min
Studio: Touchstone Pictures
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