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The Ladykillers (2004)

The Ladykillers


Average Rating: 6.1/10
Reviews Counted: 187
Fresh: 102
Rotten: 85

Critics Consensus: Hanks' performance in the lead role is inspired, but this is a relatively minor offering from the Coen brothers.

Average Rating: 5.8/10
Reviews Counted: 43
Fresh: 20
Rotten: 23

Critics Consensus: Hanks' performance in the lead role is inspired, but this is a relatively minor offering from the Coen brothers.


Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 64,943


Movie Info

Goldthwait Higginson Dorr III is a charlatan professor who has assembled a gang of experts for the heist of the century. The thieves are experts in explosions, tunneling and muscle. The professor is their critical inside man. The base of operations is the root cellar of an unsuspecting, church-going, little old lady named Mrs. Munson. The ruse: the five need a place to practice their church music. The problem: it quickly becomes evident that Dorr's thieves lack the mental capacity to do the job. … More

R (for language including sexual references)
Drama , Comedy
Directed By:
Written By:
Ethan Coen , Joel Coen
In Theaters:
Sep 7, 2004
Box Office:
Buena Vista Pictures - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Ladykillers

All Critics (194) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (102) | Rotten (85) | DVD (34)

The Ladykillers is small and compact -- it doesn't kill, it's just a doodle -- but it's a very pleasant cartoon for grown-ups. It's some sweet fodder.

Full Review… | August 18, 2007
Top Critic

While being far from the Coens' finest hour, it remains more intelligent and ambitious than most of what currently passes for Hollywood mainstream comedy.

Full Review… | June 24, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

It's both lowdown and effete, a jamboree of whoopee jokes and sick wit.

Full Review… | August 7, 2004
New York Magazine/Vulture
Top Critic

Everybody in and around this movie is trying too hard.

August 1, 2004
New Yorker
Top Critic

There's the mind-numbing oompah rhythm of every gag telegraphed and every joke pounded into the ground.

Full Review… | March 30, 2004
Village Voice
Top Critic

Most of this stuff isn't worthy of the Farrelly brothers, let alone the Coen brothers.

Full Review… | March 29, 2004
Ebert & Roeper
Top Critic

Some wicked pleasures for mature teens and adults.

Full Review… | December 28, 2010
Common Sense Media

Hanks is looser and funnier than he has been in quite some time.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007

Despite cartoonish characters, over-the-top hijinks, and occasional lapses of bad taste, any movie that leaves you laughing up the aisle, has to remain well-recommended.

Full Review… | May 2, 2007
Princeton Town Topics

The story, adapted by the Coens themselves, is reduced to a series of hoops the characters must jump through to prove just how strange they are.

Full Review… | September 29, 2006

Good but not great, The Ladykillers is simple, somewhat funny and 'nothing more.'

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

The picture ranks with the brothers' best mid level output.

Full Review… | December 6, 2005
Film Threat

A lukewarm live-action Loony Tunes cartoon.

Full Review… | May 4, 2005
Lessons of Darkness

Here's hoping their next project aims a little bit higher.

Full Review… | March 5, 2005
NYC Film Critic

The Coen Brothers remake of The Ladykillers is a half-baked mess.

Full Review… | January 31, 2005

... second-tier Coen brothers ... technically excellent and never less than entertaining, it doesn't arrest and stun the way Miller's Crossing or Fargo or Raising Arizona did.

Full Review… | January 27, 2005
Arkansas Democrat-Gazette

That sophisticated stride that made [the Coen Brothers'] first run of films so remarkable has here degenerated into a sophomoric stumble.

December 31, 2004
Christianity Today

Increasingly, the Coens seem more intent on amusing themselves than the audience. And while they deliver some laughs, it feels like a smug exercise in showing off everything but heart.

Full Review… | November 20, 2004
Maclean's Magazine

This is one of the best-cast films I've seen in a long time.

Full Review… | October 7, 2004

The Ladykillers contains several gross errors of judgment that must have given the Coens at least some degree of hesitation at some point in the filmmaking process.

Full Review… | September 8, 2004
Movie Metropolis

Exciting and perplexing at once.

Full Review… | August 8, 2004
Film Journal International

The Coens have found their stride again.

Full Review… | July 20, 2004

Audience Reviews for The Ladykillers

The worst Coen's film maybe saved (slightly) by a uncharacteristically unepic role from Tom Hanks.

Graham Jones
Graham Jones

Super Reviewer


I was pleasantly surprised at how much this film was actually good. I found this one pretty underrated. Directed by the Coen Brothers, this is a fine remake with plenty of laughs. Tom Hanks is great here, and he makes the film very enjoyable. I really don't understand the hatred towards this film. Well directed by the Coen Brothers, this is one of their most underrated films. If someone should tackle a remake, it's these two directors. Their resume speaks for itself. I enjoyed the eccentric humor that the film had, and it almost felt as if it was a Coen Brothers original film and not a remake. This is a very funny film, one that shouldn't get vilified the way it has. This is a fine little film in its own right. This remake is helmed by great filmmakers who understand the value of a good gag. With films like Raising Arizona, Fargo and The Big Lebowski, you can see a consistent humor element in their work. Ladykillers is not a perfect film, but it has plenty of good things going for it to make a worthwhile film to watch. The Coen Brothers deliver a fun, whimsical comedy here, and I really believe that this one of those films that is unfairly criticized as being a bad film, which couldn't be further from the truth. I think the Coen Brothers did a great job here and made a fine film that deserves more praise than what it initially got. If you're a Coen Brothers fan, you may enjoy this film, and you might understand why it's an underrated film.

Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski

Super Reviewer


Coen brothers flaw. The Ladykillers (2004) is nothing like the original.

Lucas Martins
Lucas Martins

Super Reviewer

The Coen Brothers' recent remake of "True Grit" was exceptionally better than the original. The same can't really be said with this one, as it's a lesser effort from the brothers. However, the Coens off form can still be better and more enjoyable than most on it.
Polite and eloquent Southern gentleman, Professor Goldthwait Higginson Dorr III, (Tom Hanks) rents a room from churchgoing widow Marva Munsen (Irma P. Hall), then plots a daring heist in her basement with an ill-chosen group of accomplices disguised as purveyors of religious music. They soon fall foul of their gospel-clutching landlady and as they desperately attempt to eradicate her, it's themselves who one-by-one pop their devious clogs.
Once again the Coens working with cinematographer Roger Deakins deliver a film that is crisp and sharphly detailed. Their usual ingredients are all here, except for one thing and that's surprisingly the one thing the Coens are most accomplished at; a tight screenplay. The film takes too long to set up the heist and by the time the plan is foiled and the whole deal goes south, the film is drawing to a close and leaves you with an unsatisfied feeling of what could have been. The cast do a fine job, but with the characters on show I couldn't help wanting to see some of the old tried-and-tested ensemble of actors the Coens regularly employ; Steve Buscemi, John Turturro or Jon Polito could have fitted in nicely here. Marlon Wayans is completely out of sorts. He seems as though he stepped off the set of a disasterous Ice Cube comedy. Other than him though, the cast are good. Irma P Hall is a joy as the sassy landlady, and it's great to see the Coens' new regulars J.K. Simmons and Stephen Root but the real star of the show is Tom Hanks. He's funnier than he's been in a long time and delivers a performance of such wily eccentricity -complete with southern gentlemanly accent - it's hard to take your eyes off him. It's one of my favourite Hanks performances and his effort deserved a better script to work with him. I just hope the Coens can find another role for him in the future. It's a collaboration I'd love to see again.
This is probably my least favourite of the Coens' work but there's still plenty to enjoy and the gags are good enough to maintain a level of entertainment.
A fine attempt at remaking the classic Ealing comedy of 1955, but it never quite excites the way the Coens are capable of and resorts to some heavy-handed slapstick.
Tom Hanks adds a big reminder of how good he can be though, making it worthwhile just for him.

Mark Walker

Super Reviewer

The Ladykillers Quotes

Goldthwait Higginson Dorr:
And what, to flog a horse, that if not dead is at this point in mortal danger of expirin', does this little square represent?
– Submitted by Alyssa B (10 months ago)
Goldthwait Higginson Dorr:
And what, to flog a horse, that if not dead is at this point in mortal danger of expiring, does this little square represent?
– Submitted by Grant K (22 months ago)
Marva Munson:
There's a stranger in our midst come to destroy us.
– Submitted by Chad E (2 years ago)
Goldthwait Higginson Dorr:
Y'all know what smote is! I smite! You smite! He smites! We done smote!
– Submitted by Abraham T (2 years ago)

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