When I saw many of the reviews for the Coen Brothers' last movie, Intolerable Cruelty, a lot of the reviewers said they were trying to be "mainstream" and stuff like that. I guess they had a point, since it was probably their most accessable movie ever, but it was still enjoyable. Well, if they were trying to go mainstream in that movie, they're taking a totally different route with their latest movie, The Ladykillers. And it was definitely the best route to take in this wonderfully hilarious movie.
The movie starts out with the sassy Marva Munson (Hall) complaining to the police about a boy playing his "hippity-hop" music too loud. And when she gets back home, we can tell that she lives a nice, quiet life. But that all changes when a gentleman seeking a room, Professor G.H. Dorr (Hanks) appears at her door. He appears to be a polite, educated, Southern gentleman, but he is really a criminal "mastermind" who is using a very diverse crew...and Ms. Munson's cellar to rob a riverboat casino.
There were really only three little minor things that I didn't like about this movie. One, is the way Hanks laughed with this character was a little annoying. Two, the very end didn't really work for me. Three, one of the characters keeps repeating the line "easiest thing in the world" and that was slightly annoying as well. But that was about it, and they were so minor that I couldn't take any stars away from this movie. Everything else about this movie was just fantastic.
The acting here is wonderful, with another incredibly diverse performance from one of the best actors of my time, Tom Hanks. He simply can play anyone under the sun, and play them marvelously. He hasn't really done a whole lot of comedy lately, but he is absolutely hilarious as this eccentric "professor" Dorr. Hanks' performance is probably the best male lead performance so far this year.
Irma P. Hall, best known as Martin Lawrence's slap-happy mom in Nothing To Lose, turns in a fine performance as the unsuspecting Marva Munson. I almost pissed my pants I was laughing so hard when she said we're in "the time of Montel." She has all the elements to play this character to perfection, and she does, indeed. The rest of Dorr's crew all have great performances as well. J.K. Simmons, best known as the outspoken newspaper editor in Spider-Man, turns in a decent performance here, although it's probably the worst of the movie, since everyone else is just great. Ryan Hurst, best known as one of the white kids in Remember the Titans, plays the mildly-retarded Lump very nicely. He's never really had a role like this, but he pulled it off nicely. Tzi Ma, best known as Counsul Han in Rush Hour, doesn't really say much here, but he has a wonderful look for the character, and whenever he speaks - or tucks his cigarette in his mouth - it's very funny. And Marlon Wayans, best known as the Wayans brother who can act on his own without the other brother, is perfect here as well, as the boisterous Gawain McSam. He clashes very well with Simmons' Garth Pancake character, and their little racial spats are fun to watch.
Ethan and Joel Coen deliver us another great script here, based off William Rose's script for the 1955 movie of the same name. The Coen's have always had a flare for dialogue, and there is some masterful dialogue here. There isn't really a whole lot of character background here, but I don't think the movie suffers from it at all. After all, they're just common hoods, really, and we don't really need any background info on them. The Coen's give us a delightful story with some nice twists, and, even though it is a little dark, you'll leave in a wonderful mood because all of it is just so damn fun to watch.
The Coen's are great as well in the director's chair, which is funny because, even though they both normally direct all of their movies, this is the first one where both Ethan and Joel got a director's credit (normally, only Joel gets credit for directing). They're great at bringing out things in their actors that we normally never see anywhere else, and they use some wonderful cinematography here as well. They're just both incredibly-talented filmmakers, with a fresh and unique style.
The Ladykillers is a movie crime and morality. This movie is at the Cannes Film Festival right now, in contention for the prestigious Goldem Palm award a.k.a. The Palm D'Or. And after finally seeing this great movie, I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Coen's took this award home. This is one glorious romp of a movie that shows us the true genius of Tom Hanks and the Coen Brothers.