Well, a swing-and-a-miss by the Coen brothers is still more entertaining than a lot of movies out there…nevertheless, The Ladykillers is something of a disappointment. I was amused by the film throughout, and particularly in the early minutes at the sheriff’s office, but, frankly, Ladykillers never really takes off. In fact, given how thinly conceived and surprisingly one-dimensional all of the supporting characters turn out to be, you often get the sense the brothers are slumming it. (Jokes about Irritable Bowel Syndrome? C’mon, y’all…you’re the Coens, not the Farrellys.)
Perhaps most disappointing about The Ladykillers is the realization that Tom Hanks, an actor I normally root for, hasn’t quite found his rhythm in Coenland quite yet. While I’m not quite sure how it could have come off differently, his turn as Goldthwaite Higginson Dorr, PhD doesn’t really work here…he’s more distracting than anything else. (I think there’s hope for Hanks, though…George Clooney seemed much more at ease in Intolerable Cruelty than he did in O Brother.) And as for the lady in question, Irma P. Hall is fun for the most part, but she too could have benefited from better material from the Coens – once the gang of thieves shows up in her root cellar, she has little to do but act affronted. A relatively amusing time at the cinema, to be sure, and particularly if you’re already sold on their sense of humor, but all in all this is a hiccup for the brothers Coen. Here’s hoping next time around is a little more satisfying.