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THE LADYKILLERS

A self-proclaimed professor of linguistics who secretly indulges in a life of crime masterminds a heist, but he and his gang may have to terminate his sweet old landlady if she doesn't stop getting in the way.

CAST: Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst, Greg Grunberg, George Wallace, Jason Weaver

WRITER-DIRECTORS: Joel and Ethan Coen

"Hanks tries his hand at a king-size heartless comic role, and flubs it terribly. He looks slack and pasty and, what's worse, sounds slack and pasty…When he recites Edgar Allan Poe to Hall and her fellow widows and matrons, it's unbelievable and condescending to think he razzle-dazzles them -- he turns ringing verse into white noise…Hanks has siphoned all his energy into tics like a mirthless incisor-baring laugh, and there's not much vitality left -- his eyes are bright yet glassy, like cheap marbles…The Coen brothers dumb down a classic character-built farce with gags about irritable bowel syndrome and monophonic stereotypes who aren't even strong enough to carry their gags to the finish line…This movie is much more daring than the first film about using graphic elements like a dismembered finger, and much less daring about toying with the naughtiness of putting an airy character in peril." --Michael Sragow, Baltimore Sun

"Giddy with the joy of playing, at long last, a bona fide villain, Mr. Hanks swans through the role of G. H. Dorr, Ph.D., a supposed professor of classics whose true vocation is crime, with a vaudevillian relish that would be unseemly if it were not contagious…the story is a flimsy frame to be ornamented with diverting bric-a-brac, and the movie as a whole is something of a paradox: a work of elaborate and painstaking craftsmanship that is at the same time a piece of junk." --A.O. Scott, The New York Times

"This is the most cartoonish, over-the-top character Hanks has played since his ‘Bosom Buddies’/’Bachelor Party’ days. It is also his most intensely annoying. A lot of ‘The Ladykillers’ is like that: Irritating when it should be amusing, dumb when it should be zany, flat when it should be snappy…‘The Ladykillers’ sports an outstanding soundtrack of spirited gospel music. But as a comedy, it's deadly." --Rene Rodriguez, Miami Herald

"Where Alexander Mackendrick’s film offered a delicately diabolical blend of the ordinary and the brutal — it was a character comedy about a hilariously thwarted attempt to kill a frail old woman — the new ‘Ladykillers’ bludgeons you with cartoonish gags about stupid football players, irritable-bowel syndrome and (for the second Coen film in a row) somebody accidentally shooting himself in the head. For all their considerable talent, the Coens have almost always had trouble telling stories, and here they cram the whole biddy-bashing premise into the last few minutes, where it lacks all menace and brio. Is it possible that these aficionados of black comedy don’t realize that ‘The Ladykillers’ is supposed to be one?" --John Powers, LA Weekly

"You have to look at the earlier film to understand where the Coen brothers went wrong -- terribly, noisily, annoyingly wrong. They've made a broad comedy out of a black comedy and completely lost its charm in the process. The Coens' film has an interesting, if not quite convincing, performance from Tom Hanks, a few good laughs and some typically inspired camera work and production design. Otherwise, it's just there, flopping around on the screen…The black characters in the film are either dumb, lazy or arm-waving Baptist spiritualists, and all are the butts of jokes. Not very good jokes at that." --Jack Mathews, The New York Daily News

"Every black person, from the well-meaning widow to the chief of police, is oblivious, ill-mannered, or both…it's insulting when such savvy filmmakers expect us to laugh automatically at four-letter words, bathroom humor, and caricatures as crude as they are unoriginal. At its best, ‘The Ladykillers’ soars above its own worst instincts, especially when Hanks and Hall take over the action…it's too bad the Coens have chosen to aim most of their humor below the belt, not above the collar." --David Sterritt, The Christian Science Monitor

"Although the movie never jells, its oddness keeps it from being boring. Tom Hanks provides such an eccentric performance that it's fun just to watch him behaving -- to listen to speeches that coil through endless florid ornamentation. That the purpose of a criminal in such a situation would be to become invisible -- as Guinness, despite his bad teeth, tried to do in the 1955 film -- escapes the Coens…What the movie finally lacks, I think, is modesty…‘Ladykillers’ is always wildly signaling for us to notice it. Not content to be funny, it wants to be FUNNY! " --Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"It gives the Coens a chance to stage some rousing gospel numbers that have nothing to do with the plot, and Tom Hanks a chance to ditch his socially-responsible-movie-star persona for a spell and attempt a full-scale comic impersonation. He succeeds, by the way—with gorgeous precision…‘The Ladykillers’ is small and compact—it doesn't kill, it's just a doodle—but it's a very pleasant cartoon for grown-ups." --David Edelstein, Slate

"This is as far from Gump, the holy fool, as an actor can get. And Hanks seizes the moment…Sadly, ‘The Ladykillers’ never lives up to its promise. In updating the 1955 British comedy of the same name (with Alec Guinness as the professor), the Coens turn the film into an academic exercise. It's as if the brothers admired the Swiss-watch precision of the original and wanted to take it apart to see how the pieces would work in a new setting. As an experiment, it's fascinating. But damn if the fiddling doesn't suck the life out of the laughs…you'll have to watch the original film to see it done right." --Peter Travers, Rolling Stone

"‘The Ladykillers,’ like other Coen brothers movies from ‘Raising Arizona’ to ‘O Brother, Where Art Thou?,’ has a dark and subversive sense of humor that may not be for everyone. And the language sometimes reaches the ‘Bad Santa’ level of obscenity. But those who like Coen brothers movies -- and I love them -- should find ‘The Ladykillers’ to be among their funniest and most memorable films. The acting, particularly by Hanks and Hall (above), is delightful, and the gospel music that dominates the soundtrack is exhilarating." -- Harper Barnes, St. Louis Post-Dispatch

"One can't help but suspect that the actors considered this film absolutely hilarious. But factor in the audience, and that becomes a minority opinion…The film never settles into an assured rhythm, and instead the actors always seem to be pushing, putting the hard sell on an audience that, however distracted by the strenuousness of the sales pitch, still isn't buying…the Coen brothers could be blamed for all of this, and yet some movies aren't really anybody's fault. Some movies just don't need to get made -- but the only way to find out is to make them." --Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

"‘Ladykillers’ is a Southern-style ‘Ocean's 11’ without the pretty boys and Vegas attitude but with plenty of laughs…Joel and Ethan Coen have fashioned a darkly funny — though not brilliant — update of the original 1955 ‘Ladykillers’…Hall plays her role with robust flair, and Marlon Wayans as the inside man/janitor is a hoot. But it is Hanks' pitch-perfect timing and eccentric portrayal that make the movie. You can't wait to hear what sardonically archaic utterance comes out of his mouth next…Those seeking a quirky and clever comedy should hightail it to ‘The Ladykillers’ forthwith." --Claudia Puig, USA Today

"Not quite top-drawer Coen Bros., but good enough to make you wish it were, ‘The Ladykillers’ is a case of being grateful for small pleasures…The feeling of being not quite there pervades the story, which unfortunately relies on such played-out humour as toilet gags, usually the last resort of filmmakers who are a lot less talented than the Coens." --Peter Howell, Toronto Star

"The Coens are longtime masters of quirky characters and situations, but even they can't generate any laughs from repeated jokes about Garth's irritable bowel syndrome, which usually strikes at particularly inopportune times. But the flick is worth sticking with for Hanks' and Hall's superlative acting…Hall is more than a match for Hanks--who risks going over the top in a role that may not be everyone's cup of tea, but is a refreshing and daring change of pace for an actor in danger of being typecast as ‘Saint Tom’ for his good-guy roles." --Lou Lumenick, The New York Post