ETHAN COEN, JOEL COEN
Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.5.
USA, 2004. Touchstone Pictures, The Jacobson Company, Mike Zoss Productions. Screenplay by Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, based on the movie by William Rose. Cinematography by Roger Deakins. Produced by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen, Tom Jacobson, Barry Josephson, Barry Sonnenfeld. Music by Carter Burwell. Production Design by Dennis Gassner. Costume Design by Mary Zophres. Film Editing by Ethan Coen, Joel Coen.
Hilarious remake of the Alec Guinness classic has been reset by those crafty Coen Brothers in modern-day Mississippi. Irma P. Hall steals the show as a traditional, God-fearing, church-going widow who has rooms to rent in her home. When double-talking, gentlemanly Tom Hanks shows up at her door with his mint-julipy Southern-fried breeding in search of lodgings, she is impressed with his credentials and immediately accommodates him. What she doesn’t know, though, is that he’s actually a criminal mastermind who has assembled a diverse team of thieves to make a tunnel from Hall’s basement into a nearby casino storehouse and make off with a huge payload of cash. Trouble is, this fiery woman proves to more trouble than ever expected for the boys’ plan, and when they try to do something about her interference she ends up being much more of a challenge than could ever be believed. Delicious performances and a marvelous soundtrack chock full of gospel music highlight a delightful caper, one that doesn’t fully satisfy but genuinely entertains nonetheless. The ensemble cast is equally memorable, from Tzi Ma‘s brilliantly stoic smoking general to J.K. Simmons‘s scene-stealing, irritable-bowl-syndromed explosives expert, Marlon Wayans‘s foul-mouthed “inside man” and Ryan Hurst‘s luggish muscle-for-hire.
Cannes Film Festival Award: Jury Prize (Irma P. Hall, for her performance)