Another unnecessary remake, The Ladykillers updates the endearing yet instantly forgettable Alec Guinness heist flick from quaint London to the Mississippi Bible belt. The result is far from endearing, but just as forgettable. Tom Hanks mugs it up in the Guinness role as a genteel con man with Col. Sanders affectations and a wheezing giggle; surrounding himself with a rogue’s gallery of inept hoods each with their own one-joke gimmick: Marlon Wayans is a momma’s boy gansta from the hood; J.K. Simmons is a control freak with IBS and a Podunk girlfriend named Mountain Girl (Diane Delano); Lump (Ryan Hurst) is a football-player-turned-inarticulate-numbskull-goon; and The General (Tzi Ma) is a reticent Japanese assassin with a knack for the grisly killings the Coens are famous for—with some finger snapping and neck cracking, brutally inappropriate for a light comedy and thus more unsettling than the already gratuitous wood chipper in Fargo. The Coens’ lapel-grabbing camerawork and long-winded jibber-jabber can’t make up for the slightness of The Ladykillers; ditto the cartoon violence and the over-the-top performances of a cast that’s working overtime in the quirk n’ smirk department. Unlike the masterfully orchestrated O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Down South locales and down-home musical choices add nothing but window dressing to this inconsequential goof of a remake. Irma P. Hall retains her dignity as the landlady, now African-American and a pious churchgoer. But there’s no aspect of faith to these sordid, unfunny proceedings despite frequent cutaways to the soundtrack deal of a Gospel choir. The Ladykillers is too trifling to be taken seriously, and too routine to inspire hilarity.
In order to give The Ladykillers that desaturated "Down South" look they previously brought to O Brother, Where Art Thou?, the Coen brothers had to pass the print a few times between celluloid and video for some hardcore digital alterations. But by the looks of this transfer, you wouldn't know that some major tinkering ever went on-edge enhancement is relatively nil and there's not a single fleck of dirt to be found on the entire pristine print. All in all, an awe-inspiring video transfer. O Brother's soundtrack was richer in ambient effects so fans of the Coens won't mind that there isn't a DTS track included on this Ladykillers DVD edition, especially since dialogue is audible and crisp and the songs are rich and soulful.
In a section marked "The Gospel of The Ladykillers," you can enjoy two songs as performed by the gospel group in the film in their entirety. In "Danny Ferrington: The Man Behind the Band," the master guitar-maker talks about how he recreated the old school instruments used by the film's criminals. Rounding out the disc is a hysterical "slap reel" showing Irma P. Hall knocking the shit out of Marlon Wayans for a good five minutes and trailers for Jersey Girl, The Alamo, The Last Shot, and King Arthur. Also, you can pop your DVD into your computer and use the enhanced ScriptScanner feature to read the script along with the actual film.
Become "one" with Irma P. Hall's killer humdingers with the DVD's enhanced ScriptScanner enhanced computer feature.