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The Ladykillers (2004)
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Review Date: March 22, 2004
Director: Joel and Ethan Coen
Writer: Joel and Ethan Coen
Producers: Tom Jacobson, Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnenfeld
Actors:
Tom Hanks as G.H. Dorr
Irma P. Hall as Marva
Marlon Wayans as Gawain
Plot:
A highly educated professor with a funky accent and a gift for gab rents a room from an aging church-going woman who believes that the man is there to practice with his musical "band". As it turns out, the man and his band of criminal cohorts have plans of their own, all of which have to do with burrowing a tunnel through the woman's basement and into a nearby casino's safe. Trouble ensues...
Critique:
Other than Tom Hanks' over-the-top character and the Coen bros' name on this production, not much about this movie interested me before walking into the theater. Walking out of the theater, not much had managed to interest me through most of its 2-hour runtime (it actually only runs 1:45, but felt like two hours), save for the aforementioned Hanks performance, the Coen bros' skillfully exaggerated dialogue and a couple of cheap laughs. I say "cheap" because the film, despite being set in a seemingly modern proper Southern town, includes a wild deviation in tone via the inclusion of one Wayans brother, in this case, Marlon, swearing it up "gangsta" like nobody's business. Felt like he was in another movie, to be honest with you. That said, he did manage to generate a few guffaws through his gaudy behavior, not including the lame slaps-across-the-face or pillow-upside-the-head slapstick they also managed to squeeze in there. The rest of the characters in the gang of no-gooders were fun, especially Tzi Ma as the smoking Asian General, but not particularly mind-blowing. Unfortunately, the film's actual plot offers nothing new to the genre, right down to the bumbling tomfoolery of the ragtag team of crooks, the underestimated adversary and the stereotypes galore. I didn't particularly care or find the lead actress of any interest either, and cared even less about her lame cat fetish or gangly walk, which they liked to emphasize to no end here.

It's to be noted that I am personally not a fan of either gospel or hip-hop music, both of which are featured prominently in this film, especially Church music, which is even expanded on in a couple of out-of-place and stretched-out choir scenes (what the hell did that have to do with the plot in an overlong movie?) Seems like the Coens might be appreciating their own cinematography a little too much as well, with an overemphasis on certain shots that simply didn't require that much attention. In the end, this is a disappointing Coen bros movie and I only hope they don't continue this pace of one movie a year because it seems to be drowning away their more creative juices. Other than a pretty inspired football sequence early on, this puppy could have been directed by most anyone. The dialogue was pure old-school Coen bros though, extremely difficult to decipher unless paying close attention and delivered with great gumption by Timmy Hanks. I only wish the story was a lot more interesting or surprising. I would recommend this movie to anyone who loves the work of Mr. Hanks, since he delivers yet another enrapturing performance (love the laugh), or folks who enjoy the whole "bumbling crooks" scenario in their motion pictures, but otherwise, check it out on video, if only to listen to some of the brilliant dialogue eloquently delivered by Hanks or chuckle at some of the goofiness that entertains every now and again. Overall though, this film offers nothing particularly memorable or amusing.
(c) 2014 Berge Garabedian
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