Tom Hanks as Professor G.H. Dorr
Irma P. Hall as Marva Munson
Marlon Wayans as Gawain MacSam
J.K. Simmons as Garth Pancake
Tzi Ma as The General
Ryan Hurst as Lump Hudson
Diane Delano as Mountain Girl
George Wallace as Sheriff Wyner
John McConnell as Deputy Sheriff
Jason Weaver as Weemack Funthes
Stephen Root as Fernand Gudge
Lyne Odums as Rosalie Funthes
Walter K. Jordan as Elron
George Anthony Bell as Preacher
Greg Grunberg as TV Commercial Director
The Coen Brothers make yet another fun movie filled with classic quirky characters. The Ladykillers is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in a while.
This is a remake of the 1955 film that starred Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers.
Marva Munson is a little old black lady living alone in Louisiana. Her life is rather simple. She goes to church, takes care of her cat, pesters the sheriff about loud neighbors, and talks to a painting of her late husband. However, her life gets a bit more complicated when Professor G.H. Dorr arrives at her doorstep.
The eccentric intellectual Dorr claims to be looking to rent a room in her house, but in reality he’s a thief looking to break into a casino’s nearby underground safe. Marva’s basement happens to be the prefect location to dig a tunnel into the money room for the casino. Under the cover story that he’s the leader of a band, Dorr brings in a group of misfits to help him pull off the heist. They include loudmouth Gawain MacSam who is a janitor at the casino, demolitions expert Garth Pancake, tunneling expert “The General”, and the dimwitted Lump Hudson. Together they secretly begin to tunnel away. But what will happen when Marva gets wise to their diabolical plan?
The Ladykillers is rated R for language including sexual references.
This is one of the funniest movies I’ve seen in years. There were a few scenes in The Ladykillers where I was laughing so hard I was crying. The Coen Brothers have created yet another classic film that is full of quirky characters and surreal moments. The movie starts out rather silly, then turns into a really funny dark comedy. I dont know how this compares to the 1955 version, but it has certainly made me want to check it out.
The cast of bizarre characters is led by Tom Hanks as Professor G.H. Dorr. This is one of his most unique characters since Forrest Gump. Dorr is like Colonel Sanders, Dr. Evil, and George Clooney’s character from “O, Brother Where Art Thou?” rolled into one. He’s obviously an intelligent individual (he quotes Edgar Allen Poe) yet he makes questionable choices (he recruits accomplices through a newspaper ad) and stupid mistakes (Marva catches this dandy hiding under the bed from the sheriff). Throw in an annoying laugh and you have a classic character.
But Tom Hanks isn’t the only one providing laughs in this movie. The rest of the cast does their part to make their characters memorable as well. Irma P. Hall is fantastic as Marva Munson. (She happened to have a bad car wreck in January 2004, but is apparently doing better.) She’s like everyone’s grandmother while at the same time being your typical older Southern black woman. Marva complains about that “hippity hop” music, slaps Wayans upside the head for cussing, and chews out the intimidating “General” for smoking in her house. She really drives the story along and is a classic movie character. The rest of the cast is made up of caricatures as well. J.K. Simmons is Garth Pancake, the guy that seems to know how to do everything yet is competent at very little. Tzi Ma is hilarious as The General. He’s your typical Asian military type who could kill with a look. Ryan Hurst is Lump Hudson, your stereotypical dumb jock. His introduction is hilarious as we see him playing football from a first person point of view. It quickly becomes apparent that he’s the worst football player in the world. Marlon Wayans is Gawain MacSam, your stereotypical black gangsta character. While I didn’t like his character much, he was funniest when getting beat up by Marva. Even Marva’s cat, Pickles, steals the show a couple of times and offers some great laughs, especially in the final scene.
The Coens offer up laughs in a couple of great ways. First of all, they provide completely absurd situations. They put their characters in a position where you say, “It can’t get any worse.” Then it does. I can’t say more without spoiling the movie, but you’ll see what I mean when you check it out. They also offer up great laughs with their quirky dialogue. When Tom Hanks speaks, you might need a dictionary to follow along. Then there are some classic lines like, “We must all have waffles, forthwith!” Or when Dorr introduces himself as “G.H. Dorr, Ph.D,” Marva asks, “Fudd? Like Elmer Fudd?” It took the audience and myself a couple of seconds to get the joke, and then you could hear laughter spread through the theater.
The Southern locations are beautiful (though you could tell that some parts, like the bridge, were not real). The music in the film is also fantastic. There’s a mix of gospel along with folk songs and even rap. Some of the styles are blended together in a few scenes to give it a unique sound. You’ll have to see it to understand what I mean.
Overall, I think if you liked “O, Brother Where Art Thou?,” then you’ll probably enjoy The Ladykillers. An appreciation of the quirky and absurd will help.
What Didn’t Work:
The main thing I didn’t like about The Ladykillers was Marlon Wayans. While I knew his character was supposed to be a stereotype, his constant string of profanities became annoying and didn’t seem to fit the rest of the film. The rest of the movie was silly and lighthearted while everything he said seemed excessively harsh. While it was funny to see him get slapped when cussing, it wasn’t funny the rest of the time. Most of his dialogue was “f**k” and “n***er”. I don’t understand why they didn’t tone it down a bit for a PG-13 rating. It would have got them a bigger audience.
The pacing of the film is also a little inconsistent. When it moves along, it really moves along. However, there are stretches where not much happens and it gets a little boring. This frequently happens in quiet moments where Hanks recites poetry.
The Bottom Line:
The Ladykillers is a fun movie well worth checking out, especially in a large audience.