Sunday, July 03, 2005

Ladykillers (2004)

What do the 3 following movies have in common:
  • Man who wasn't there
  • Intolerable Cruelty
  • Ladykillers

They're consecutive movies created by the Coen brothers that didn't quite live up to their past work.

My question: what's up with the Coens? Since "O Brother," they just haven't blown me away. It's almost as if they've started to believe the thing that made their prior movies great was the quirkiness, not the story. Ladykillers is a decent movie by anyone else's standard. By the standard of the Coens, it's absolute shit.

Another consecutive movie streak to mull over:
  • The Hudsucker Proxy
  • Fargo
  • The Big Lebowski
  • O Brother, Where Art Thou

Four of the greatest movies ever made. So what the hell happened?

I think the Coens decided that quaint things like weirdos in the South were what made their movies great. Ladykillers tries desperately to be "O Brother", but fails where the first one excelled. The movie ends up being a lot of talk, not much story, and not much humor.

Oh, and a word about the original (which I haven't seen, of course). The original movie had Alec Guiness and Peter Sellers. I'm sorry, but just based on paper alone, if you're remaking a comedy with those two great actors in it, you should have your head checked.

For one thing, this movie has no idea what era it's supposed to be in. Unlike "O Brother," which clearly understood its era, this movie has some characters that think they're in the 20s, some in the 40s, and some in the 2000s. Instead of being quirky, it's just dumb. I think "Intolerable Cruelty" actually suffered from this a bit. I liked that movie better than Ladykillers, but the movie wanted so desperately to be a romantic comedy of the 40s/50s that it didn't work out.

The thing that makes Fargo great--as well as Hudsucker and Lebowski and every movie they did before Man Who Wasn't There--is that the characters are portrayed with seriousness and honesty. The characters in every movie they've done since that point have been to ridicule. About 15 minutes into this movie, E said "Is this the freak's Ocean's Eleven or what?" Exactly. The Coens classically make their characters one-dimensional and humorous. The problem with this movie is that the characters are so one dimensional that it's just annoying, not funny.

Rating: If you get past the first 20 minutes, there are a few funny things.

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