Con artists are en vogue right now. Brad Pitt, Mark Wahlberg and Nicolas Cage have all dabbled in thievery. Even Don Cheadle, one of the coolest guys in Hollywood, helped rob a casino. Now, Tom Hanks is on the job in the latest Coen Brothers' film, The Ladykillers -- with limited success.
Set in the present-day South, The Ladykillers is a remake of an old 1950s film of the same name. Hanks plays Goldthwait Higginson Dorr, a Classical scholar who plans to rob a gambling boat. He assembles a gang of men, disguises it as a late-Renaissance musical ensemble and sublets a room from an older Southern lady whose only interests are her church and late husband. The crew plans to tunnel underground through her house to the boat, break in, steal the money and return without leaving a trail. The plan goes smoothly until the older lady discovers the money and demands that the thieves give it back. Chaos and a limited amount of hilarity ensue as the gang tries to handle the problem.
While The Ladykillers is not the typical movie for Hanks, he is fairly successful at the Coens' bizarre brand of comedy. The same can be said for Marlon Wayans, who steps out of his typical role of a loud, obnoxious, urban male to play a loud, obnoxious, Southern male. The rest of the cast is adequate, its performances neither elevating nor burying the film.
One unexpected highlight is the big screen return of Ryan Hurst, who played star linebacker Gary Bertier in Remember the Titans. In The Ladykillers, Hurst ably portrays Lump, a football player who serves as a muscleman in the operation.
The Ladykillers is an amusing film that seldom bores and seldom inspires. As is the Coens' style, it showcases various types of humor and has a consistently offbeat quality to it. The characters are all unique, and their interactions in the film vary from annoying to hysterical. Still, in the end, one leaves the theater feeling that the film was no more and no less than mediocre.