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The Ladykillers

movie reviewmovie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: The Ladykillers

Starring: Tom Hanks, Marlon Wayans
Director: Joel Coen
Rated: R
RunTime: 104 Minutes
Release Date: March 2004
Genres: Comedy, Suspense

*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 Steve Rhodes
1½ stars out of 4

After one of the longest winning streaks in Hollywood, including four out-of-the-park homeruns in his last four outings (THE GREEN MILE, CASTAWAY, ROAD TO PERDITION and CATCH ME IF YOU CAN), Tom Hanks strikes out swinging in THE LADYKILLERS. But, to be fair, it just isn't his fault, as he clearly does everything that is asked of him. The problem lies on the other side of the camera.

THE LADYKILLERS, a remake of the Alec Guinness classic crime comedy from 1955, is by writers and directors Ethan and Joel Coen who have had as many misses (O BROTHER, WHERE ART THOU?) as hits (FARGO). They have Hanks badly channeling more Peter Sellers than Alec Guinness. And, with his just-above-a-whisper, over-the-top Southern accent, Hanks is frequently inaudible and indecipherable. But, when you can hear his lines, don't be surprised if you want him to start murmuring again. I don't I think I ever laughed during this movie. Still, if you find mouth-to-mouth CPR on dead bulldogs and chronically loose bowels funny, you might enjoy THE LADYKILLERS.

The plot has ersatz Professor G.H. Dorr, Ph. D. (Tom Hanks) renting a room in the house of Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall). Nominally there to play church music in her basement, the professor and his fruitcake band of crazy criminals are planning on tunneling over to a casino vault nearby. The title comes from their bumbling attempt to kill their landlady after she finds out about the heist. The movie might as well have been called THE TIMEKILLERS given how much time it wastes with lame attempts at humor.

Clever? Sometimes. Funny? No. Maybe next time the Coens can remake PSYCHO. Oh, I forgot. That's been done. Whatever they do, let's just hope that they don't con Hanks into taking a part. He is way too important a talent to be wasted again.

THE LADYKILLERS runs 1:44. It is rated R for "language including sexual references" and would be acceptable for teenagers.

Copyright 2004 Steve Rhodes

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