The Ladykillers | Chicago Reader

The Ladykillers

The British black-comedy classic (1955), about a gang of thieves who find lodging in the home of a little old lady, is improbably transmuted into Joel and Ethan Coen's Greatest Hits (with a southern setting, slapstick accidental suicide, etc), suggesting they might better have started off from scratch. In place of Katie Johnson's indestructible London senior we get Irma P. Hall as a hefty black matron in small-town Mississippi, and instead of Alec Guinness's band of thieves we get a far more incompetent team of misfits headed by Tom Hanks (who adds a southern accent and an enjoyable if fussy spin to Guinness's performance). The Coens' lack of interest in Mississippi is moderated by a healthy appreciation of gospel music, but their smirking appreciation of stupidity extends to every character in the movie while including no one in the audience. With Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, and Ryan Hurst. R, 104 min.

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