Relocating Mackendrick's black comedy to the Mississippi Delta is just one of several dramatic changes made to the Ealing classic. The dialogue is almost entirely new, and it pours out maybe too freely, as it's sometimes hard to keep up with the ornate lingo and wham-bam gags. The characters, while distantly echoing the original little old lady and the posse of disguised thieves who rehearse music in her boarding house, are drastically redrawn (probably the funniest new inventions being Pancake and his beloved Mountain Girl). And the tone is not so much bone-dry, as broad and somewhat scatologically moist. Hanks isn't a patch on Guinness, and sometimes it all falls a little flat. But at other times it's very funny indeed, and while being far from the Coens' finest hour, it remains more intelligent and ambitious than most of what currently passes for Hollywood mainstream comedy. And the cat is great.
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