Movie Review – ‘The Ladykillers’ (2004)

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ and I’m Tim Bradley!

As a kid, I saw the 1955 film ‘The Ladykillers’ with Sir Alec Guinness. I enjoyed that film when I saw it on VHS in the 1990s and it’s nice to revisit it now and again, whether it’d be on TV or on DVD. It’s a black comedy drama film that’s been cherished by many and it’s worthy of being a quaint English film.

That isn’t something I can say about the 2004 remake of ‘The Ladykillers’ with Tom Hanks, which my parents and I saw on Disney+. I’m not alone on this, as the remake received mixed reviews at the time of its release. It’s considered to be one of the weaker efforts of the Coen brothers who made it. 😦

The Coen brothers are Joel and Ethan Coen, and they’ve made a lot of films over the years. I’m sure the Coen brothers have made better efforts compared to this film, because 2004’s ‘The Ladykillers’ doesn’t sit well with me. Now, that’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it, but I see that it’s not an amazing film.

It’s a shame, because an American take on ‘The Ladykillers’, which was originally a British film, could have worked. But the creative choices made and the execution of those choices seem uneven, especially in terms of how some characters are defined and what the motivations are throughout. 😦

Like the 1955 film, the 2004 film has Tom Hanks playing an eccentric, if not charming Southern professor, as he and his crew pose as a classical ensemble in order to rob a casino. This is all under the nose of an unsuspecting but sharp old landlady, who has her strict religious views in her home. 😐

It’s interesting how the film depicts the old lady character, Irma P. Hall as Marva Munson, as a black religious woman, whereas in the 1955 film, it was Katie Johnson as Mrs. Louisa Wilberforce. No disrespect to Marva Munson, but I found Mrs. Wilberforce a sweeter lady compared to how she was.

Tom Hanks plays Goldthwaite Higginson Door, Ph.D. (Yes that’s a mouthful to say) – the mastermind of the casino heist. Tom Hanks is entertaining throughout this film, but there are times when he can be a little over-the-top in his eccentricity. I’m sure Sir Alec Guinness wasn’t like that in the original. 🙂

The film also features Marlon Wayans as Gawain MacSam, the foul-mouthered, hothead janitor of the Bandit Queen Casino and the inside man of Tom Hanks’ group. And yes, there’s quite a lot of swearing from this character. Not sure Deadpool can top up on the swearing said by Mr. MacSam. 😀

There’s J. K. Simmons as Garth Pancake (At this point, I’m looking forward to sharing my thoughts on him as J. Jonah Jameson in ‘Spider-Man: No Way Home’ 😀 ), Tzi Ma as ‘the General’ and Ryan Hurst as Lump Hudson. Out of the five ‘ladykillers’, Lump appears to be the gentle giant of the group. 🙂

The cast also includes Diane Delano as Mountain Girl (Pancake’s girlfriend), George Wallace as Sheriff Wyner, Stephen Root as Mr. Gudge, Jason Weaver as Weemack Funthes, Greg Grunberg as a TV commercial director, Blake Clark as a football coach, Aldis Hodge as a doughnut gangster and Jeremy Suarez as Li’l Gawain. Bruce Campbell made an uncredited cameo as a Humane Society worker here.

There were occasions where I laughed out loud at certain moments in the film, but most of the time the comedy is awkward, especially when Tom Hanks’ character hid under the bed to prevent Sheriff Wyner see him. There were also moments where I cringed, whether it’d be lot of talking and lots of swearing. 😐

2004’s ‘The Ladykillers’ isn’t a film I would consider to be great. I recall seeing it advertised one time when I was at school. I didn’t think much of it and thought to stay with the original. Now I’ve seen the 2004 film, my curiosity is satisfied. I hope one day I’ll get to check out the 1955 film again soon. 🙂

By the way, I’ve discovered Peter Capaldi starred in a 2011 stage adaptation of ‘The Ladykillers’ 1955 film. I’m sorry I missed that. 😀

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂


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