Movie Review by Debbie Winkler
Starring: Tom Hanks, Marlon Wayans, Irma P. Hall, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma
Director: Ethan Coen, Joel Coen
Release Date: 26 March 2004
Length: 104 minutes
Movie Rating: R
View Format: DVD
“A Southern professor-turned-criminal-mastermind (Tom Hanks) puts together a group of thieves to help him rob a New Orleans riverboat casino. But when the old lady (Irma P. Hall) who’s renting them a room gets a whiff of their plan, they have no choice but to kill her. ” — Netflix.com
I was disappointed with this “remake” of The Ladykillers. I thought the original film was clever, emotional and a surprisingly engrossing crime thriller. This remake does not come even close to that. Most of this is due to the fact that the characters are fairly flat and one note. Tom Hanks, who reprises The Professor’s role (made famous by Alec Guinness), was definitely not his usual, lovable self. I despised his tittering laugh and thought he was way too smarmy. Irma P. Hall was a huge disappointment as the “sweet old lady.” I did not like her and would probably not have had such a difficult time killing her. I don’t think it was any surprise that one of the characters equated her with his abusive mother! The other characters are merely shadows of real people and are sketched out very briefly. I felt that the writers and director relied more on stereotypes than clever writing to create their characters.
I was definitely put off by the crude humor and strong language in this film. J.K. Simmons’s character suffers from IBS (Irritable Bowel Syndrome), Tzi Ma’s character constantly swallows his cigarette because there is no smoking allowed in the house, Ryan Hurst keeps his mouth open the whole time to try to make himself look dumb and Marlon Wayans’s character is busy living up to every black-man-in-the-hood stereotype that has ever been created. There is crude sexual humor, potty jokes, and Asian and black stereotypes to try to make the audience laugh. Well, I wasn’t laughing. The cat, Pickles, was probably the most entertaining character in the film. I got a kick out of watching the men scramble to try to catch him and keep in the house to appease their grouchy landlady.
I am not sure why the directors and creators of this film decided to bill this film as a remake of The Ladykillers. They would have been much better served to create a new title and claim that the movie was inspired by the original, but not a remake of the original. The basic plot is the same and they played an homage to the original film by playing the same chamber music to conceal their crime, but the original is far superior to the updated version. Truthfully, the best part is watching the criminals patiently wait to drop the dead bodies onto a passing trash barge, but waiting for a train to pass by is so much better! If you enjoy crime capers, you will find something in this movie to enjoy, but there are many better crime thrillers out there to watch.
This movie contains several scenes of death and violence. Characters die of gunshot wounds, falling down the stairs, and hanging. Crude jokes including sexual humor and racial stereotypes are common. There is a lot of swearing in the movie. Recommended for ages 18 and up.