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  The Ladykillers  
  Joel and Ethan Coen  
  William Rose, Joel and Ethan Coen  
  Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J. K. Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst, Diane Delano, and George Wallace  
Release Date:
  March 2004  
Reviewed by:

Okay, let me qualify the sponge rating. If youíre not too terribly hung up on the Coen brothers, you could conceivably consider it six instead of five sponges. It is a good movie, but Iím just thinking that many connoisseurs out there may be demanding more from the Coen brothers. This is not necessarily a film that I would really want to evangelize to people, but itís a good movie, especially to see with friends. Granted, itís already been done as a movie (Alec Guinness, anyone? Peter Sellers?), but the Coens do put their own spin on it.

The basic story is that a con man (Hanks) uses his rented room in a sweet old ladyís (Hall) house as an excuse to assemble his band of robbers in order to use the root cellar to tunnel their way into a vault. Itís a good ensemble piece, and Hanks and Hall get enough face time. The Coens use their trademark linguistic and musical explorations as nice window-dressing. This time around, itís Hankís Southern drawl and over-the-top vocabulary and Hallís gospel music. And you get to have a nice unraveling as the story concludes.

Hanks doesnít burn up the screen, but he does plays a silly character. Letís face it, anyone who first thinks Bosom Buddies instead of Saving Private Ryan when they hear Tom Hanksí name is going to feel heís right in place here. The Coens tend to create worlds where the characters go about doing their things with a ferocity of purpose, but who nonetheless make it seem the most natural thing in the world. These people donít get riled up to do what they were going to do, but they certainly donít notice when things get in their way.

Look, this is just a fun movie to watch. Youíre not going to consider yourself a more fully-fledged member of Western Civilization if you see this movie, but thatís why Iím writing these movies from this perspective anyway. Silly lines? Check. Uncomfortable dismemberment? Check. Awkward caught-in-the-act moment? Check. Implausable mayhem? Check. Story closure provided by a cat? Check and check. So, this is a good movie for a Coen brothers movie, let alone a regular Hollywood creation. Not their best, but good.

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