The Ladykillers


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f you've never seen a Cohen Brothers movie before, the time has come to change that.



The Ladykillers
The Masked Reviewer

Let's just get right down to it.  The Masked Reviewer is a busy guy and he's got things to do. 

If you've never seen a Cohen Brothers movie before, the time has come to change that.  Actually, the time to change that was when Raising Arizona came out.  Or Miller's Crossing.  Or Fargo.  Or O Brother, Where Art Thou?  In fact, almost any Cohen Brothers movie coming out signals a good time to see a Cohen Brothers movie.  But this one, in particular, is particularly good.

Though it is a re-make of a 1955 film (coincidentally called The Ladykillers), the Cohen Brothers have taken that story and entirely re-written it.  And it's one of the best re-writing jobs you'll see this year.  The dialogue and characters are exceptionally well-written.  The movie features many quirky characters (as all of their films do) and it's a much more diverse group this time.  Everyone in the film has a clearly defined character, and there are good lines for everyone.

The best, without a doubt, is Tom Hanks.  Without getting into the nitty-gritty (or any spoilers), Tom Hanks plays a nefarious fellow who is the epitome of the Southern gentleman.   He even looks like Colonel Sanders from KFC.  The dialogue the Cohen Brothers have written for Tom Hanks is perfect: it's an antiquated way of speaking, full of flowery vocabulary and verbose phrasology.  His performance is one of his best, and worth the price of admission alone.  But wait, there's more!

Irma P. Hall plays Marva Munson, the titular lady.  Though Irma Hall has been in dozens of films and TV shows, the Masked Reviewer didn't remember her...but he will now.  Her performance is brilliant as an elderly church going widow.  She's absolutely convincing in a part that could easily fall into stereotype cardboard cut-out.  She also holds her own against Mr. Bigshot Multiple Academy Award (tm) Winning Tom Hanks.

In fact, everyone in the film gives a good performance, from Marlon Wayans to J. K. Simmons. 

So, what's wrong with the movie?  About the only weakness (which won't detract from the film for many people) is that it features a lot of gospel music.  Now, the music was great in films like O Brother Where Art Thou and the music isn't bad here (unless you don't like gospel), but they spend a lot of camera time showing a gospel choir singing.  It's one thing to have the music in the background, but there are two scenes featuring a gospel performance and the credits feature a third shot,'s not very interesting to watch.  It doesn't have any importance to the film (other than symbolically) and that could be achieved with more interesting visuals anyway. 

The Masked Reviewer isn't going to go on and on about The Ladykillers because he's got things to do.  Suffice it to say, you should go see it if you're a fan of the Cohen Brothers.  If you like Tom Hanks, you should see it.  If you like dark comedy, you should see it.  If you've never seen a Cohen Brothers film, go see it.  If you hate Tom Hanks and/or don't care for the Cohen Brothers, you probably won't love The Ladykillers, but the rest of us will certainly enjoy it.


Expectation from the Title: A bunch of 50's era good looking guys decide to go out on the town and paint it red...or maybe a multi-state killing spree.

Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):  Tom Hanks is good.  Darn good.

The Pros: Great writing, great performances.

The Cons: Too much gospel.  Ending of the film a little bit weak compared to the rest.


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