The Ladykillers

The Ladykillers
Cast: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst, Diane Delano, George Wallace, Jason Weaver
Directors: Ethan Coen & Joel Coen
Writers: Ethan Coen and Joel Coen
Genre: Comedy/Crime
Rated: M frequent coarse language, medium level violence
Running Time: 104 Minutes

The Greatest Criminal Minds Of All Time Have Finally Met Their Match.

Tom Hanks teams up for the first time with Joel and Ethan Coen ('O Brother, Where Art Thou?") for this retelling of the critically acclaimed 1955 comedy 'The Ladykillers'. Hanks stars as Goldthwait Higginson Dorr III, Ph.D., a charlatan professor who's assembled a gang of 'experts' for the heist of the century. The thieves: experts in explosions, tunnelling, and muscle, and the critical 'inside man'. The base of the operations: the root cellar of an unsuspecting, church-going little old lady named Mrs Munson (Irma P. Hall). The ruse: the five need a place to practice their church music. The problem: it quickly becomes evident that Dorr's thieves lack the mental capacity to do the job. The bigger problem: they have all seriously underestimated their upstairs host.
When Mrs Munson stumbles onto their plot and threatens to notify the authorities, the felonious five decide to do her in. After all, how hard can it be to knock off one old lady?

My Verdict:
Tom Hanks delivers some of the most incredible lines in 'The Ladykillers' that perhaps this is a good enough reason to see this movie. As Goldthwait Higginson Dorr III, Ph.D., he looks a little like Colonel Sanders of KFC fame, complete with cape, beard, moustache and a very southern USA accent. Therein lies another standout characteristic of 'The Ladykillers' - the accents. Whilst Americans may not find the accents hard to deal with, Australians will surely struggle with understanding the accents, let alone having any idea of what some of the idiosyncratic meanings are. This is where DVD really shines as you hit that rewind button to hear again and again lines that aren't clear on the first round.

We are introduced to Higginson's troupe as each of them goes about their daily lives: Marlon Waylans as Gawain MacSam, is the insider who works at the casino (where the heist will take place) as a cleaner, J.K. Simmons as Garth Pancake is an animal trainer who also suffers from Irritable Bowel Syndrome, Tzi Ma as The General is the owner of a donut shop who has little to say yet has a deft tongue, especially good for hiding cigarettes, and Ryan Hurst as Lump Hudson is a very dumb football player who is there for brute strength and not much else. It is very much a case of having 5 totally different characters that couldn't possibly have anything in common - except they all stand to become rich after the heist has taken place. So obviously these characters are going to clash and indeed they do, especially Garwain and Garth who spend most of their time abusing one another with colourful language, which was overdone at times. Higginson, spends his time trying to control and lead the group whilst keeping Mrs Munson occupied.

'The Ladykilllers' really is a movie of a comedy of errors. Some of the jokes fall flat whilst others are laugh out loud style. There is a very, very black scene near the start where a dog dies from asphyxiation during the making of a dog-food commercial and he has to be resuscitated mouth-to-mouth by Garth (obviously the dog was in no danger whilst the film was being made), which may offend some people and others will find hilarious. So, it really is a matter of taste. There are also numerous jokes around Garth's Irritable Bowel problems complete with sound effects that really is plain and simply child-like toilet humour. Still, there are plenty of other events that take place that are genuinely funny, many of them visual, which is good considering the accents.

'The Ladykillers' is essentially Tom Hanks movie and he does such a wonderful job considering the lines he has to deliver. How he managed to remember some of them is indeed testament to his outstanding longevity in the movie industry. The fact that this is a remake is of little consequence (the original starring Alec Guinness was set in London) as the Coen brothers, as directors and writers of this screenplay, have put their unique mark upon the movie. Not the greatest comedy but still laughable.

Rating : B-

Christina Bruce