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This Review Reveals Minor Details About the Plot.

Mining the Mississippi Mud

The Ladykillers (2004) on IMDb

Plot Overview

flute and drumIt's a lazy day deep into spring in Saucier, Mississippi, where on quiet Orchard Street lives an elderly negress, the God-fearing widow Mrs. Marva Munson (Irma P. Hall) whose cat Pickles has gone up a tree. Her new tenant Prof. G.H. Dorr, Ph.D. (Tom Hanks) obliges her with a cat rescue rather than have her bother helpful Sheriff Wyner (George Wallace) with it. She has agreed to let the professor's musical ensemble practice their early renais­sance music down in her root cellar. He likes the way the dirt walls baffle the high register notes.

Unbeknownst to her the professor is a criminal mastermind of a scheme to tunnel through the root cellar wall into the river­boat casino Bandit Queen's counting room across the way. His crew of “musicians” include: insider Gawain (“I'm a bunkie junkie”) MacSam (Marlon Wayans,) demo man Garth “freedom rider” Pancake (J.K. Simmons,) an experienced tun­neler from Vietnam the General (Tzi Ma,) and for muscle a big lummox named Lump Hudson (Ryan Hurst.)

tea partyTheir “merry band, unbound by the constraints of society” is toasting their success when the lady of the house returns unexpectedly from church to host a tea party (“You have returned from your devotions betimes.”) The gig is up and she gives them a rather unsatisfactory ultimatum, with a day to consider it.

Gawain MacSam: “Motherf––k!”

Professor G.H. Dorr: “Yes. Unfortunately, Mrs. Munson has rather complicated the situation.”

Gawain MacSam: “Yeah, well, I know how to decomplicate it. You bust a cap in that old bitch's head, everything be simple.”

Professor G.H. Dorr: “Not easy to do. Many reasons. Practical ones. Quiet neighborhood, sleepy town. Reasons of moral repugnance. A harmless woman, a deed conceived and executed in cold blood. Oh, no, Gawain, would that it were simple.”

Gawain MacSam: “Well, f––k, man! What we gonna do? Give the money back and go to church?”

Professor G.H. Dorr: “I shudder. I quake. [addressing the General] You, sir, are a Buddhist. Is there not a ‘middle’ way?”

The General: “Mm. Must float like a leaf on the river of life … and kill old lady.”

They have to assign someone the task; then he'll be like the assassin in a Warren C. Easley novel:

It felt good to have a job, to know what you had to do. Even a nasty job needs doing. Get in, get it done, get the hell out. That's the way he worked. But at the same time Jake felt like he was carrying a lead brick in his chest. There was that damn little voice, too, the one that kept saying this isn't right, you should stop right now and get the hell out of [Dodge]. (107)


good shepherdHere we'll just go with the sermon delivered by the preacher (George Anthony Bell,) the shep­herd of the flock—it's short enough. As is customary in black churches there's some calling back and forth between the preacher and the congre­gation. He tells them that when Moses came down from the mountain with the word of God, down from Mt. Sinai, he caught the Israelites red handed. What were they doing? They were wor­ship­ping a golden calf, wor­ship­ping a false god. What did Moses do? What did he do? “Moses smote those sinners in his wrath.”

Then the preacher asks, what is smite? What does it mean to smite? “I smite, you smite, he smites, we done smote! To smite is to go upside the head. Because some­times, brothers and sisters, that's the only way. To smite is to remind, we got to stop the decline and scramble back up to the face of the Almighty God.”

By and by, when Mrs. Munson hears Gawain utter a naughty word, she practices what she heard in the sermon. She lays into him but good. She tells him, “Mind your mouth. This is a Christian house, boy. No hippity-hop language in here.” As for smiting him, she says, “Some­times it's the only way. I'm tryin' to help you, boy, better yourself.”

boy and dogLater again upstairs when she catches him in some mischief, she repeats the visceral lesson and says, “I'm dis­pleased with you, a fine colored boy like you falling in with that trash down­stairs.” Some sophisti­cated editing melds this scene with a flash­back of the boy being slapped by his mamma for bringing home a stray dog. She tells him when his father gets home, he'll lay into him proper. Her initial slap was just to teach him an immediate lesson per, (Prov. 13:24) “He that spareth his rod hateth his son: but he that loveth him chasteneth him betimes.” Betimes means done right away, forthwith, quick like.

Production Values

” (2004) was directed by Ethan Coen and Joel Coen. Its screen­play was written by Joel Coen and Ethan Coen, based on an earlier version of “The Ladykillers” (1955) written by William Rose. Its cast incudes Tom Hanks, Irma P. Hall, Marlon Wayans, J.K. Simmons, and Tzi Ma. Tom Hanks was excellent, as we've come to expect. All the other cast members quit them­selves well, too, in a diverse assortment of roles.

gospel choirMPAA rated it R for language including sexual references. The camera work is deliberate and the editing smooth making the movie easy to watch as it goes through various trans­itions. The humor is sublime and the gospel music rousing. DVD features include a gospel track with both per­form­ances and a slap reel showing enviable mileage on that Moses sermon.

Review Conclusion w/ Christian Recommendation

This movie is more for a cat person than a dog person. I like all kinds of movies and found this one hilarious. It is with­out doubt one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. Humor has to hit one's funny bone to amuse, and some will find it funnier than others. If you like the Coen brothers' work, you can't go wrong here.

Movie Ratings

Action factor: Well done action scenes. Suitability For Children: Not Suitable for Children of Any Age. Special effects: Well done special effects. Video Occasion: Fit For a Friday Evening. Suspense: Keeps you on the edge of your seat. Overall movie rating: Five stars out of five.

Works Cited

Scripture quoted from the King James Version. Pub. 1611, rev. 1769. Software.

Easley, Warren C. Not Dead Enough. Scottsdale: Poisoned Pen Press, First ed. 2016. Print.