out of 4
All-Reviews.com Movie/Video Review
|*Also starring: ||Irma P. Hall, Ryan Hurst, Stephen Root, George Wallace, J.K. Simmons, Freda Foh Shen, Tzi Ma, Walter K. Jordan, Jennifer Echols, Jason Weaver||
Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4
What a disappointment! Perhaps it's because I so admire the thespian
talents of Tom Hanks. Perhaps it's because I have so enjoyed the quirky,
off-the-wall comedy of Ethan and Joel Coen. But I found this re-make of the
1955 Alec Guinness/Peter Sellers crime caper to be interminable.
Set in the Bible Belt, the plot revolves around a hapless band of thieves
who plan to rob a Mississippi River gambling boat. "Band" is the operative word
here, since Professor G. H. Dorr (Tom Hanks) rents a room from an unsuspecting
churchgoer, Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall), on the pretext of rehearsing
Renaissance music with his "ensemble," as he calls them, in the privacy of her
root cellar. It's no coincidence that the strategic placement of this
underground chamber is on a direct line to $1.6 in the boat's storage vault,
separated by a few hundred yards of soft, loamy soil. His miscreant cohorts
include an "insider" (Marlon Wayans), tunneling master (Tzi Ma), explosives
expert (J.K. Simmons) and brain-addled muscleman (Ryan Hurst).
Screenwriters/directors Joel and Ethan Coen force desultory humor from
each character, each scene. Through prosthetic teeth, Tom Hanks wraps around
the flowery prose of a highly educated classicist/charlatan, but his
self-conscious pontificating makes the pace ponderous, and Marlon Wayans'
vulgarity quickly ceases to amuse. Only down-to-earth Irma P. Hall, with her
aversion to smoking and "hippety-hop" music, captures the quirky, inherent
lunacy of the entire endeavor. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "The
Ladykillers" is a listless, unfocused 6. As Prof. Dorr says in ancient Aramaic,
"Mene, Mene, Tekel, Upharsin" ("You have been weighed in the balance and found
wanting."). But the toe-tapping gospel soundtrack should be a keeper.
Copyright © 2004 Susan Granger
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