The Ladykillers


The Ladykillers

Critics Consensus

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



Total Count: 191


Audience Score

User Ratings: 65,626
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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. The bigger problem: they have seriously underestimated their upstairs host. When Mrs. Munson stumbles onto their plot and threatens to notify the authorities, the felonious five decide to 'do her in' before she ruins their heist. After all, how hard can it be to knock off an old lady? They'll soon find out.


Tom Hanks
as Prof. Goldthwait Higginson Dorr
Irma P. Hall
as Marva Munson
Marlon Wayans
as Gawain MacSam
J.K. Simmons
as Garth Pancake
Tzi Ma
as The General
Diane Delano
as Mountain Girl
George Wallace (II)
as Sheriff Wyner
John McConnell
as Deputy Sheriff
Jason Weaver
as Weemack Funthes
Stephen Root
as Fernand Gudge
Greg Grunberg
as TV Commercial Director
Lyne Odums
as Rosalie Funthes
Hallie Singleton
as Craft Service
Robert Baker
as Quarterback
Blake Clark
as Football Coach
Amad Jackson
as Doughnut Gangster
Aldis Hodge
as Doughnut Gangster
Freda Foh Shen
as Doughnut Woman
Paula Martin
as Gawain's Mama
Jeremy Suarez
as Li'l Gawain
Te Te Benn
as Gawain's Sister
Khalil East
as Gawain's Brother
Jennifer Echols
as Waffle Hut Waitress
Nita Norris
as Tea Lady
Maryn Tasco
as Tea Lady
Jessie Bailey
as Tea Lady
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News & Interviews for The Ladykillers

Critic Reviews for The Ladykillers

All Critics (191) | Top Critics (45) | Fresh (104) | Rotten (87)

  • It is not the blockbuster the (Coen) brothers hanker after, and it is not going to be a critical success, but, for me, it is the best comedy they have managed.

    Jan 8, 2018 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    Aug 18, 2007 | Full Review…

    David Edelstein

    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.

    Jun 24, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • It's both lowdown and effete, a jamboree of whoopee jokes and sick wit.

    Aug 7, 2004
  • Everybody in and around this movie is trying too hard.

    Aug 1, 2004
  • It is neither terrible nor terrific, just... unnecessary.

    Jun 22, 2004 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…

    Nev Pierce
    Top Critic

Audience Reviews for The Ladykillers

  • Jan 17, 2016
    You know that saying about pizza, even when it's bad it's still pretty good. I guess you could say the same for the Coens because, honestly, out of all of their films I've seen, this might be the 'worst' one of them. I still haven't watched their entire filmography. But, even with the fact that it's not the Coens at their best, this still ends up being a perfectly enjoyable movie. Stylistically speaking, this is still very much a Coen brothers film. The characters are idiosyncratic and the dialogue is, typically, top-notch. Which is why it's really disappointing that the film's elements never really come together as effectively as one would think they should given all the talent on board in front of and behind the cameras. The cast is top-notch, with Tom Hanks being a really inspired casting choice for the lead as he clearly relished the chance to play a different character than he would normally play. GH is a character that would say just about anything to get his way, he's well-spoken and educated and he uses that to his advantage. He's an anachronism, he looks and sounds more like an old plantation owner more than anything else. The character is well-written and he's, clearly, the most memorable and entertaining part of the film. The rest of the cast, with the exception Irma P. Hall as Marva, while really good, don't really get as much to do or are as interesting GH ends up being. I don't wanna say they're one-dimensional, but they're there because this is a caper movie, after all, and you know different people with different sets of skills. The interplay between the cast is quite good and that's a pretty big part of why the film ends up being as fun as it is. As far as Coens' films go, this is probably one of their more easily accessible and digestible, at least out of the ones I've seen, I know Intolerable Cruelty is a little more mainstream than this, this is still rated R after all, but I don't think that's where the problems of the films lie. Again, the story just doesn't really click as well, I didn't really care for the caper part of the story itself, they just don't do a good job at getting you intrigued about it. You're interesting in where it's heading after the fact, you don't really care about the planning of it and the caper itself. You could also blame the fact that this is a remake, but I wouldn't use that, because the film does still feel like a Coen movie. It's got all the trademarks, so I don't know what you can blame it on. Mid-career slump? Who knows, but their next film after this was No Country For Old Men, one of the best movies of the 2000s. True Grit, which I thought was excellent, was another remake. So if anything is to blame for this film not being up to Coen brothers' usually lofty standards, it might've been a slump they were going through. Even with that, I still enjoyed this movie quite a bit. Good cast and good dialogue help overcome the planning of the caper and the caper itself just not being that exciting to follow and the characters, minus GH and Marva, not being developed as well. Still, if you have Netflix, and you want something that'll keep you entertained for a relatively short time, then this movie is perfectly solid for that. It's not one of the Coens' best efforts but, by that standard, if Uwe Boll directed this movie then it would be his best movie, so that tells you something about how great the Coens are and how bad Boll is.
    Jesse O Super Reviewer
  • Jun 07, 2014
    I know when I think of a figurative ladykiller, I think of Tom Hanks... and I really do mean that, because even though he's weird-looking and middle-aged, come on, he's Tom Hanks. Seriously though, "The Man Who Wasn't There" was by no means the comedy that the 1983 film "coincidentally" of the same name was, and I figured that firmly secured the assumption that the Coens don't do remakes, although in all fairness, I didn't figure they'd ever get around to sharing director and producer credits. I reckon they needed to firmly remind people that "both" Coens would be handling this project in order to settle the fears that arose when it was announced that this film might be directed by the guy to did "Wild Wild West". Oh yeah, I see that Barry Sonnenfeld has really gone on to do some respectable things ever since he quit being the Coen brothers' cinematographer, and that, my friends, is sarcasm. Come to think of it, considering that they're promoting both of their names in the credits, while working with Barry Sonnenfeld and T-Bone Burnett again, and keeping Carter Burwell and Roger Deakins around, this Coens are Steve Buscemi, John Goodman, John Turturro and George Clooney away from putting together their definitive filmmaking team here. Oh, well, it's a shame that the film ended up stinking... which is also sarcasm, my friends. Yeah, I seem to be one of a handful who feel that this film ended up being not too much better than it would have been if Sonnenfeld directed it, although that's not to say that I don't subscribe to certain complaints. Although it only runs a touch over 100 minutes, the film, being so thin in its weight, outstays its welcome, featuring some filler which leads to a certain sense of aimlessness, while near-convoluted bloating to material layers leads to a certain focal unevenness. Tonal unevenness is about as big an issue, as tension, upon arriving, often breaks fluff in an awkward manner that is even found within the fluff's seeing a lapse in that classic Coen cleverness, which has been challenged before, but not quite like it is here. Something like "The Big Lebowski", one of the Coens' very best films, really toned down wit, but at least it wasn't pretentious about it, and while this film at least utilizes its overt fluffiness to sustain a certain entertainment value throughout its course, humor's taste is inconsistent, even though it is at least consistent in having obnoxious moments, deriving either from the aforementioned uncelver moments or from moments which are too snappy for their own good. Needless to say, these annoying elements make it all the more difficult to get invested in an over-the-top plot that, no matter how fun, at least on paper, is a touch too improbable to embrace as satire at times, maybe even a smidge, well, dumb. This narrative gets to be overwrought, yet it's still rather thin and fluffy, and not even as refreshing as many of the other fluffy stories taken on by the Coens, being by no means as formulaic as "Intolerable Cruelty", but still formulaic enough to reflect a certain laziness to the Coens' storytelling. I don't suppose there's a whole lot to complain about, but what there is worth criticizing tends to be quite an issue, bearing down on a film of limited consequence to begin with with a certain unevenness, obnoxiousness, improbability and, of course, laziness which render the final product kind of forgettable. The film is certainly underwhelming, and yet, the Coens can lose only so much entertainment value with their sleepwalking as storytellers, especially when they go backed up by style. Set in 1996, this film isn't much of a period piece, but its Mississippi suburban environment's place between traditionalist and modernist architecture is distinguished, or at least is made so by art direction by Richard L. Johnson that crafts colorful settings fairly handsomely, as surely as a diverse soundtrack produced by T-Bone Burnett captures certain themes attractively. Art direction delivers on some memorable visuals that Roger Deakins flavors up with sharp occasions in cinematography, while a worthy soundtrack goes complimented by some sharp original pieces by Carter Burwell, and while none of these stylistic touches are especially worth writing home about, they add to entertainment value, thanks to their stylish orchestration by the Coen brothers. As directors, Joel and Ethan Coen are used to playing with subtle style in such a way that entertains thoroughly, but some sense of fun is not the peak of the Coens' deliverance, as the brothers also take some thoughtful twists that are never dull, but rather effective at times in their establishing some tension through all the fluff. Of course, at the end of the day, it is mostly about fluff, and when it comes to that, the Coens hit even harder with writing that, while still pretty flimsy in a lot of ways, is never short on the skilled writers' trademark snappy dialogue, subtly colorful set pieces, and generally biting sense of humor. When the humor falls, it often falls flat, but when it hits, it often hits hard, as a pretty hilarious reflection to the Coens' being far from rusty as comedic filmmakers and writers, who wouldn't entertain so thoroughly without eccentric characterization that, in turn, wouldn't be so charming without such a solid cast. The Coens may be a little lazy at times here, but they continue to showcase their abilities to work well with colorful talents handed colorful roles, whether it be Irma P. Hall as an innocent, stereotypical old black woman, or Tzi Ma as a quietly intense possible former Vietcong, or Marlon Wayans as a fowl-mouthed wannabe gangster, or Ryan Hurst as a brawny simpleton, or J.K. Simmons as a talented criminal with some serious flaws, or Tom Hanks, who, of course, delivers the most in his impeccable portrayal of a hyper-formal man of intelligence and crime whose integrity goes shaken by moments of delightful silliness, and challenged by some nerve-wracking challenges. I will go so far as to say that after a while, Hanks is all but recognizable in an immersion into his role that is very much better than this film deserves, although that's not to say that this film isn't reasonably worthy of your time, being a mess, but generally entertaining, conventional Coen opus. When it's all said and done, aimless inconsistencies in pacing and tone that at least keep consistent in obnoxious and improbable aspects to the formulaic and lazy-feeling telling of a thin narrative render the final product pretty underwhelming, but not so underwhelming that handsome art direction, a colorful soundtrack, some slick direction, plenty of sharp writing, and a plethora of charismatic performances - the most inspired of which being by Tom Hanks - fail to drive the Coen brothers' "The Ladykillers" as a fairly fun affair, in spite of its flimsiness. 2.5/5 - Fair
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • May 04, 2013
    I liked this "lesser" film from the Coen brothers. Tom Hanks is less annoying in this role than he has been in ages.
    Juli R Super Reviewer
  • Apr 18, 2013
    I love anything Coen Brothers. I haven't seen the original so I can't comment on this as a remake, but found it,quite good. Goldthwait Higginson Dorr's monologues were hilarious. Of course since this is a comedy, I predicted in the first fifteen minutes that in the end, the money would HAVE to be A)scattered to the wind at the end, or B) utterly wasted and squandered. I turned out to be right in a way, on both counts. Just once I'd like to see the schemers get to keep the money.
    Pamela D Super Reviewer

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