The Ladykillers
2004
A Southern professor-turned-criminal-mastermind puts together a group of thieves to help him rob a New Orleans riverboat casino. But when the old lady who's renting them a room gets a whiff of their plan, they have no choice but to kill her.

Scott Hardie: “It ruled.”

For a pair of filmmakers who built their careers on being subtle and quirky, it's unnerving to watch the Coen brothers veer into broad comedy, as they succumb to the demands of studio budgets. I enjoyed this film much more than "Intolerable Cruelty," perhaps because its outbursts, however loud and awkward, are still confined within the boundaries of its odd little cartoon world, as was the case with "O Brother Where Art Thou?". It takes time to get accustomed to these bizarre characters sharing the same physical reality with each other; the sensation is akin to watching the Disney, Looney Tunes, and other classic toon characters on-screen together in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," but without the humans. However, once the film is accepted, it can cause big laughs, especially as the clockwork machinations of its plot begin to take the precise turns they should for each of the main characters. Tom Hanks is fascinating and obviously thrilled to be playing such a lily-tongued loon, and his infectious sense of fun gives the black comedy a needed lift. Because the movie is so deliberately weird, it might put you off if you feel like you don't "get it," but there's nothing to get; this is lowbrow entertainment pitched at a highbrow frequency, in case you missed the farting sounds while accomplished character actor J.K. Simmons contorted his face. There will be viewers on both ends of the spectrum who dislike it, but I found it hilarious, and I thought its flaws gave it a character all its own. This is a strange but delightful little comedy.

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