By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Four Beers) –
Professor G.H. Dorr (Tom Hanks) is a kindly middle aged Southern gentlemen seeking a room, and a practice space for his string band. Or at least that’s what Mrs. Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall) thinks. In reality, G.H. is planning a heist, and using Mrs. Munson’s basement to dig a tunnel under a casino vault. Accompanied by cohorts “Lump” (Ryan Hurst), “The General” (Tzi Ma), Garth Pancake (J.K. Simmons), and Gawain (Marlon Wayans), G.H.’s plan seems to be going swimmingly, but the veneer Marva puts on is only partially true. She might be a sweet old lady, but she’s also very nosy, and turns out to be more trouble than the thieves bargain for.
Grandma Guilt is her Superhero power
The Coen Brothers manage some very creative laughs with a blend of dark humor and slapstick. And the performances of nearly the entire cast are solid. This pays off in droves, helping to rise above the film’s faults, which will be outlined below:
The film has some good laughs, but also a lot of groaner lines. The Coens chose this as their first film to act as official co-directors, having been recognized as an “established duo” by the Academy.
This duo is sill waiting on their application…
At the time, it was easy to wonder if there weren’t too many cooks in one kitchen. However, as films such as No Country For Old Men proved, the Coens still worked together quite well. Perhaps this was simply a B-Script to test out the new arrangement? Either way, for every funny joke there are at least 3 that fall by the wayside.
The story itself is an interesting concept, and indeed the film is a remake of the 1955 film of the same name. However, it stretches itself into cartoonish territory, which clashes with the dark comedy. It isn’t unheard of to have this occur, but it requires a careful balance which ultimately feels off-kilter.
Marlon Wayans… This is a movie that needs no extra comic relief, and so his schtick comes off as unnecessary. Wayans’ blend of comedy doesn’t really fit in The Ladykillers.
Or anywhere else for that matter.
A rare misfire from the Coens, but not without some plus sides
Take a Drink: as each character dies
Take a Drink: when Tom Hanks’ laughs like a satanic Colonel Sanders
Do a Shot: when Mrs. Munson mentions Bob Jones University in a positive light