Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000 to 2009.
Joel and Ethan Coen’s 2004 remake of The Ladykillers was an extremely funny comedy. Or, as Goldthwait Higginson Dorr, Ph.D., would say it, it was an exorbitantly capricious motion picture presentation that carried with it a lithe, whimsical air.
Most actors would lose audiences playing a human thesaurus with a slow-as-molasses Southern drawl. But Hanks showed his decade-plus absence from unabashed comedy hadn’t thrown off his timing. He floated with mannered precision through the movie, leading a group of thieves moonlighting as a Christian band to burrow through the basement of a devout Christian (Irma P. Hall) into a casino.
The Coens’ beautiful visuals make for phenomenal sight gags — you’ll never see a more gorgeous or hilarious landfill — but The Ladykillers would make you laugh as hard with eyes closed given its humor of inflections, accents and excessive vocabulary.
This modern-day tale feels like it could take place 50 years earlier — its literary allegories as at home with Edgar Allen Poe as they are with the good book. And, given copious discussion of moral fiber, the gospel soundtrack feels more integral here than in the Coens’ O Brother, Where Art Thou?
As is the brothers’ wont, they poke fun at anything and everything, including their Jewish faith in a throwaway one-liner (perhaps sowing seeds for the similarly spiritual A Serious Man). Working without obvious outside collaboration (Intolerable Cruelty) or impenetrably arty pretenses (O, Brother), this was their funniest flat-out comedy since The Big Lebowski.