The Ladykillers (2004)

(In theaters, April 2004) There’s no denying that on the heels of Intolerable Cruelty, the Coen brothers have once again disappointed many with this lesser film. A remake that audaciously re-imagines the basic story of the London-based 1950s original in contemporary Southern Mississippi, The Ladykillers is a slight comedy that unfortunately loses interest as it winds up to its conclusion. The best two things about the film, as may be expected from the Coen Brothers, is the music and the secondary characters. While Tom Hanks gets all the flash and glory in the lead role of a cultured southern gentleman who decides to try his luck at crime, every character in the film speaks with their own cadence and idioms, a musicality of speech that meshes well with the musical background. (What O Brother, Where Art Thou? Did to folk music, this version of The Ladykillers does to gospel choirs, maybe even too much) Sadly, the relatively amusing first half of the film loses stem once the light crime comedy cedes its place to much darker and moralistic material. Suddenly, the film isn’t so much fun to watch. It doesn’t help that the lead character, a formidable black woman with a fearful sense of right and wrong, is such a dull character. While the film is supposed to revolve around her, her presence just isn’t as compelling as the dastardly villains she’s facing. Oh well; Quirky is the word, but then again quirky is what the Coen Brothers are all about, occasional misfires and all.

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