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" A woman’s heart is an ocean of secrets "
— Gloria Stuart, Titanic

MRQE Top Critic

Atomic Blonde

Atomic Blonde offers an excitingly fresh and strong female lead. —Matt Anderson (review...)

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The DVD supplements for The Ladykillers are watchably entertaining, but they don’t add much to the mix. Nevertheless, the movie is better the second time around. This time, I wasn’t surprised (or more correctly, taken aback) by the cartoonish style and characters, all of which I’d seen before, but never in these exact proportions.

Criminal Minded

Hanks and Wayans are cartoony, but Irma P. Hall steals the show
Hanks and Wayans are cartoony, but Irma P. Hall steals the show

In The Ladykillers, criminal-minded hip-hoppers (Marlon Wayans) coexist with euphonious mint-julep-sipping charlatans (Tom Hanks). In this cartoon world, they not only coexist but collaborate on a Wile E. Coyote scheme to steal money from a gambling boat on the Mississippi.

Professor G.H. Dorr (Hanks) arrives to rent a room at the house of Miss Munson (Irma P. Hall, whose giant frame and no-nonsense attitude steals the show). Occasionally, he tells her, his ancient-instrument ensemble will practice in her root cellar. He assures her they don’t play “hippity hop music,” but fine, classical pieces — church music.

His ensemble is made of five criminal masterminds. Gawain (Wayans) is the inside man at the riverboat casino. The General (Tzi Ma) is an Asian tactician who never speaks. Garth (J.K. Simmons), with his booming baritone and irritable bowel syndrome, is the demolitions expert. Lump (Ryan Hurst) is the brainless muscle.

Digging the tunnel and stealing the money might be enough for most movies, but these five also have to deal with Miss Munson.

Hidden amid the wacky plot and goofy character traits is a funny, warm, human sensibility. The filmmakers love these characters. Although they are all caricatured, none of them are simply mocked. And when they have something to say, the Coens listen raptly, like they would for a beloved but crazy uncle.

DVD Extras

There are three notable extra features in this first DVD release. First and foremost is a documentary on the period instruments used by the crooks in the movie. Danny Ferrington was put in charge, and when he couldn’t find the right instruments, he made them. The Ladykillers is secondary in this documentary on the quirky craftsman. At one point he shows us his “Harpalyre,” a three-necked guitar for which no music was ever written.

The other features feel like they were included because they didn’t require any extra work. One is two numbers by the gospel choir featured in the movie, uncut. The other is called “The Slap Reel,” and it delivers what it promises. It’s two or three minutes of (mostly) Wayans getting slapped by (mostly) Hall.

Picture and Sound

The surround sound was most noticeable during the gospel numbers at Miss Munson’s church. The rich round tones sound great in our movie room. Picture quality is, as expected, nearly flawless. The movie is presented in the original 1.85:1 aspect ratio. Sound is encoded in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround.