The Ladykillers is an edgy retelling of the 1955 criminal comedy by quirky directors Joel and Ethan Coen (Fargo, O Brother Where Art Thou). A wordy criminal mastermind, Professor Dorr (Tom Hanks), leads his band of thugs (Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, Tzi Ma and Ryan Hurst) in a plot to rob a New Orleans riverboat casino. The clever scheme involves posing as classical musicians and infiltrating the home of the elderly Mrs. Munson (Irma P. Hall). But instead of practicing music in her quiet root cellar, the thieves tunnel through the soft dirt to the casino’s shore-side vault. But Mrs. Munson is curious and skeptical, and Dorr’s unlikely crew repeatedly makes foolish — and hilarious — mistakes. When Mrs. Munson finally discovers the plot, she demands that Dorr and his friends return the money and join her at church. But they have other plans for the helpless old lady.
This is a story about poetic justice and providence. Though the Professor’s plan is well-conceived, there are stronger powers working against him as represented by a portrait of the long-deceased Mr. Munson that continually changes expression to communicate reactions to people and situations. The film is often crude and contains grisly killings that are unsettling for a comedy. Overall, it has a wonderful comedic balance but unfortunately resorts to an almost constant barrage of objectionable language to accomplish it. This easily earns it an R rating.