The Ladykillers on DVD
by Johnny Bray
The Ladykillers proves that even the most reliable Hollywood giants can mislead
you from time to time.
Tom Hanks stars as Professor G.H. Dorr, a charming con man who rents a room
with a Hollywood cliché. Shes a seemingly helpless and clueless
elderly black woman, religious and old-fashioned but generally pleasant. Shes
pretty easygoing, provided you watch your mouth and dont smoke in her
Naturally, it seems like the ideal place for a group of criminals to head their
operation. Dorr and his boys are planning a remarkable heist, and they seem
to have the perfect plan, but if there wasnt an elderly black woman to
get in their way, it would be a pretty short movie. She frequently interrupts,
causing the crew to have to quickly clean up and grab their instruments to keep
up the charade of being a musical group.
Things progress as youd expect, but in not as entertaining a fashion
as other, better heist movies. The Coen brothers tried their best to jump on
the genre bandwagon, but ultimately fell flat on their faces. To put it bluntly:
Im not a Coen brothers fan, and so was not expecting much from The Ladykillers.
I was still disappointed.
The presence of Tom Hanks is usually a good sign. One of Hollywoods biggest
stars, he can generally be counted on to pick good projects. In this case, he
probably just wanted a role that was different from anything hes done
before. In that regard, it works pretty well.
Its fun to watch a great actor act, and Dorr is a great character for
a great actor to play. Some may find it difficult to swallow the man in such
a role, but those people need to relax and just enjoy some fine work. Or better
still, not bother watching the movie in the first place.
The Coen brothers have put their stamp on the film. They take an extremely
mediocre idea, add good actors, and then do everything they can to make it seem
smarter than it really is.
The ending of the movie is a major letdown: abrupt and unsatisfying. After
building things up to the point at which you think you know where its
going, they completely surprise you. And Im not talking in a good way.
Theres no real twist or anything, its just a crappy ending.
Now before you dismiss this review as that of someone who doesnt like
the Coen brothers, it should be mentioned that I have spoken with many huge
Coen fans, none of whom enjoyed this movie any more than I did. So its
best to just ignore it altogether and watch some of your favorite Coen classics
Both picture and sound are good, but theres not really much of note.
Presented in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen and Dolby Digital 5.1, color and detail
are well done, with no dust or grain anywhere to be found. Separation of audio
elements is nice, but the surrounds dont really do anything at all, except
emit the echo of a couple of gunshots.
Danny Ferrington: The Man Behind the Band is a short featurette
on the man who wrote the songs featured in the movie. Its probably a great
little blurb if you enjoyed the songs featured in the movie. There are some
deleted music scenes, but again, if you dont enjoy that kind of music,
you probably wont enjoy the scenes. The best extra is a series of outtakes
that is exclusively Marlon Wayans getting hit in the face by Irma P. Hall. Now
thats something everybody can enjoy! Finally, if you put the DVD into
your DVD-ROM drive, you can read the script as the movie plays, but youd
have to be a pretty hardcore fan to care about that.
The Ladykillers, from Touchstone Home Entertainment
104 min. anamorphic widescreen, (1.85:1, 16x9 TV compatible), Dolby Digital
Starring Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K.Simmons
Produced by Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, Tom Jacosbson, Barry Sonnenfeld, and
Written and directed by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen
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