The Ladykillers Joel and Ethan Coen

The Ladykillers Joel and Ethan Coen
After making some of the most incredible cult films of all time, it seems that the Coen brothers have been trying to balance their underground filmmaking with a more mainstream twist. And it's not that these more commercially-accessible projects have been poor — they still have that Coen touch of quirkiness and dark humour — but they're just not up to the high standards that we've come to expect from the duo that created Fargo and The Big Lebowski. This time around the Coens decided to tackle a remake of 1955's The Ladykillers, about a group of small-time crooks who rent the basement of a little old lady's house, posing as a group of musicians while they secretly tunnel into a nearby casino vault. Tom Hanks plays Professor G.H. Dorr, the mastermind of the operation who has an amusing vocabulary and has raided the closet of Colonel Sanders. His criminal companions consist of cheap laughs, such as a man who suffers from irritable bowl syndrome and a Wayan brother who provides a slew of profanities, resulting in many slaps across the head from Marva, the unsuspecting landlady. The Ladykillers has moments of brilliance, such as the General defending his store from an attempted robbery, but overall it fails to deliver what the Coens usually can. It's quite possible that The Ladykillers is the worst film by Joel and Ethan, but even when the pair strike out they still make better films than most. Like most Coen DVDs, there isn't much in the way of extras. There's still no commentary track from the directors, indicating that they have vowed never to sit down and explain their filmmaking process. Instead we're offered a "slap reel," which is merely a minute's worth of quick takes in which Irma P. Hall lays a beating on Marlon Wayans; it is actually more amusing than it sounds. There's also a small featurette on Luthier Danny Ferrington, who hand-crafted all the instruments used by the faux band after Joel and Ethan realised that no one would trust them with original musical artefacts. The piece is mildly interesting, as Ferrington tells stories of crafting guitars for Kurt Cobain and Johnny Cash, and also sheds light on someone behind the scenes that normally wouldn't get the praise they deserve. (Touchstone)