The Ladykillers Movie Review
Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen
Written by Joel and Ethan Coen, based off an original screenplay by William Rose
Release Date: 26 Mar 2004
Running Time: 104 minutes
Editor’s Rating: 2.5 raging bouts of IBS out of 4
So, this film falls into the vat labeled “Movies I Didn’t Know Were Remakes.” Apparently, the first one starred Alec “OG Obi-Wan Kenobi” Guiness, and was made in 1955. The Coen brothers, whose films I like and have covered before, got a hold of it and did what they do best: turn it into a quirky period piece set in the South with comedic elements.
Now, a lot of people give this film flack because it didn’t really stay true to its source material. And how the quirkiness of the film tends to take up most of the film’s screen time, and not really, you know, the name of the film. To those criticisms I just found myself thinking “Is trying to kill a helpless old woman, no matter how comedic the effort, really that funny?”
Now, I will admit, every actor in this film with the exception of the amazing Irma P. Hall is chewing on every bit of scenery there is to nom on. However, to me it just veers it more toward a screwball comedy. As the film progresses, it just feels like Tom Hanks and crew are living in this odd microcosmic bubble that seems to follow them around wherever they go, to the point that they can brandish handguns in a local Denny’s without fear of reprisal. Now, I get it. People don’t think that’s a good way to keep a solid tone throughout a film, to keep it believable. I get it. But to be honest, it’s so absurd that I can’t stop giggling at it.
Tom Hanks’ portrayal of Goldthwait Higginson Doyle is just so friggin’ off the wall that it’s just fun seeing him have fun overacting the dickens out of this character. Part of me thinks that Tom Hanks just couldn’t really do a convincing southern accent, but then he wasn’t that bad in The Green Mile. Marlon Wayans plays a braggadocious street punk who’s definitely more bark than bite. JK Simmons is a jack of all trades, but with much more emphasis on the other half of that phrase - master of none. The other characters in the heist party are goofy, but those are by far the most memorable to me.
Irma P. Hall, on the other hand, is the glue that holds this film together by the tattered, shredded bonds of the audience’s suspension of disbelief. She’s like the bridge between the unrelenting nonsense of G.H. and crew and the real world. She goes to church. She actually buys what G.H. is shoveling her. And in the end, it’s her who ends up with G.H.’s ill-gotten gains, so who’s to say that this wasn’t just all in her head?
Well, the wonderful folks at Bob Jones University might have something to say about whether or not their massive new donation is real…
**I watched this film on a streaming service I pay for. I was not compensated for this review.**
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