Directed by Ethan and Joel Coen, starring Tom Hanks, Irma P Hall, Marlon Wayans, JK Simmons, Tzi Ma, Ryan Hurst, Diane Delano, George Wallace, John McConnell, Jason Weaver and Stephen Root.
Go see 'The Ladykillers' with a clean slate - ie forget the Coen brothers are behind it and that the original was hard to better - and you're likely to find it more than chuckle-worthy. William Rose's original script has been cleverly reworked for the modern audience, but unfortunately clean slates just don't exist.
Alexander Mackendrick's 1955 adaptation of William Rose's novel was a classic. Maintaining the dramatic elements of film noir in its silhouettes and atmospheric music, it had a quirky edge and a star-studded cast, which included Alec Guinness and Peter Sellers. The same cannot be said for the Coen brothers effort, where quirky becomes ridiculous.
Taking the British classic and reworking it with deep Southern accents as these bandits attempt to raid a casino on the Mississippi just about works. But while you laugh at the hippedy-hop gags, you can't help thinking that 'The Ladykillers' is one film that the Coens won't be remembered for.
Tom Hanks headlines as Professor GH Dorr, dragging a cast of unlikely characters, which somehow work to create an amusing ensemble. The Professor has the perfect heist plan, but in order to execute it he must enlist the help of the muscles (Hurst), the foreign one (Ma), the insider (Wayans), the handyman (Simmons) and his girlfriend who was never meant to be part of the plan (Delano) - all in the safe refuge of Mrs Munson's (Hall) home.
Together they hope to tunnel from Mrs Munson's basement through to a river casino. But their plot is thwarted by a comedy of errors, as well as the interfering old lady who must inevitably have the last laugh. While the laughs come mainly from the array of bungling criminals, it is the performances of Irma P Hall and Tom Hanks that make the film somewhat memorable. Their astute portrayals give 'The Ladykillers' an edge and offer a glimmer of a chance that the Coen brothers could compete with the original.
If you just want a few giggles to pass a couple of hours then don't feel reluctant to part with your hard-earned cash but 'The Ladykillers' comes off a trailing second best to the original.