A remake of the 1955 comedy, the story revolves around a Southern professor who puts together a group of thieves to rob a casino. They rent a room in an old woman's house, but soon she discovers the plot and they must kill her, a task that is more difficult than it seems. Written by
Marva Munson (Irma Hall), the owner of the house the robbers use, bears the same name as the judge in the Coen Brothers' subsequent film, Intolerable Cruelty (2003). In both cases, the women are African-Americans. See more »
When Mrs. Munson is sitting in front of the painting at the very beginning of the movie, we see her knitting in an over-the-shoulder-shot and she wraps the wool round her fingers. When the camera changes, she does it again, although the wool actually is already wrapped around her hand. See more »
The original "The Ladykillers" is one of my favorite comedies, a gleefully macabre and witty classic with some outstanding performances, especially Alec Guinness' hysterical performance. It was also distinctively British. Now, I am not nearly as annoyed by remakes as many other filmgoers are- I merely find most of them unnecessary and hence avoid most of them. The only ones I respect are those that attempt to do something different. The Coens are probably my favorite living directors and among the more distinctive currently working, and they certainly put their own spin on an established comedy classic with this film.
I think that the poor reception this film got is largely due to its sense of humor. The Coens' dry wit present in several of their films is present here, mostly through the main character Professor Dorr, portrayed excellently by Tom Hanks in one of his better performances, but there's also a lot of low-brow humor, and not even distinctive or interesting low-brow humor, just 'haha he dropped an f-bomb' sort, which is really at odds with the rest of this film. Really, take out Marlon Wayans and his annoying character and you would have one of the best remakes ever made. Instead you've got this film.
"The Ladykillers", in spite of its awful reputation, is really not a bad film at all. It's got atmosphere, it's beautifully photographed, it's fairly amusing, and the majority of the performances are very good. It's inferior by the Coens' standards but still better than most comedies released in 2004. In addition, although it takes a lot of liberties with the original story, it recreates the most memorable sequences from the original with care and obvious affection, resulting in a hugely entertaining last twenty minutes in which so many memorable images from Mackendrick's classic Ealing comedy are translated to the American south.
This is a minor film for the Coens, but obviously one made with love and affection. It's fairly flawed, but it's also quite amusing and features and outstanding performance from Tom Hanks, an actor I don't normally think is particularly great.
16 of 25 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?