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Dan Heller's Movie Review of Lady Killers


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Hanks Coens
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The Coen Brothers have done it again. You know, these are the guys who usually bring you intelligently-written comedies that involve colorful people who fit meticulously detailed cultural stereotypes. They are often in situations where you gleefully watch them squirm with the consequences of their evil plans after things go terribly awry. In this case, they direct their sharply pointed camera lens back to 1955 with a remake of the movie, The Ladykillers.

Here, Tom Hanks plays Professor G.H. Dorr, a thick-accented and articulately well-spoken southerner, deeply cultured in his passions for the finer things in life. He walks into the home of the widow Marva Munson in order to rent a room in her home, which she has had available since her dearly departed husband has died (but still dutifully watches over her through a portrait adorned conspicuously over the mantelpiece
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Money Everywhere
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in the living room). Her house is perfectly situated for his plan, which is to dig a tunnel to the nearby casino and rob it for its millions, with the help of some questionably-chosen accomplices. The team of mostly bumbling idiots and strongly conflicting personalities are skilled enough to do their jobs, but only just so, leaving plenty of opportunity for laughter at their expense... plus the delight of watching people be real. Ocean's 11, this is not. And as far as plot goes, that's about it; there are no plot twists, complicated turns, or multiple layers of interlacing characters that used to be the signature for the filmmaking team of brothers Ethan and Joel.

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Hanks Hall
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In keeping with this, the movie really strives for simplicity, almost as a salute to the culture in which it resides. Though it's set in modern day, the town itself is hardly any different than one might have imagined in the 1800s, except for the casino. The dress, decor, and even the little white church and its Sunday services look as though you've stepped back in time. This is even more comedically punctuated when modern day pierces through the thin veil with Marlon Wayans' performance. As a member of the criminal team working as "the inside guy" within the casino, his foul mouth and hip-hop gangsta rappin' ways actually serve as a comedic reminder that we are not, by any means, living in the 1800s.

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Irma Hall
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People may talk of Tom Hanks' performance, but to me, it wasn't much of a stretch for him. A fine job, to be sure, but I expect that. Instead, the screen was stolen by Irma Hall's portrayal of Marva Munson. She portrays her character just as you might expect, but does so in a way that you can't help but just enjoy watching her do it. Hall, a veteran TV actor with a slightly less active career in film, deserves the attention.

Indeed, the Coen brothers films of late, including Ladykillers, have all been considerably lighter on the plot lines, refocusing directorial attention more towards the actors themselves portraying the extremities of the cultural and social quirkiness of their characters. While they did a good job with that here, as with other current works, they used to do all that and have more fleshed out plotlines to boot. Consider Fargo and Raising Arizona. Only by comparison is this film weaker than what my expectations were. On its own, Ladykillers is still delightful.

You can find this movie on the internet database here: http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0335245/

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