Urban Cinefile
"If the Titanic is a metaphor for the certainty of death, then the denial phase was, ĎI canít die, this ship canít sink.í"  -director James Cameron
 The World of Film in Australia - on the Internet Updated Thursday July 12, 2018 

Printable page PRINTABLE PAGE



Mild-mannered dentist Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky (Matthew Perry) meets his new neighbour in their quiet Montreal suburb, he gets a rude shock. He recognises the man, who calls himself Jimmy (Bruce Willis) as contract killer Jimmy "The Tulip" Tedesci. Jimmy has ratted out a Chicago mob boss and, released from prison, has moved to Canada. Oz is trapped in a bad marriage to Sophie (Rosanna Arquette) - but she sees an opportunity. If Oz will go to Chicago and finger Jimmy to his old mob associates in return for a sizeable finderís fee, sheíll give him the divorce he wants. But Jimmy is one step ahead.

"Life's a comedy. It's all in the execution," is the catchphrase for The Whole Nine Yards -ironic, because itís in the execution that this black comedy falls short. The plot is laden with more twists than a mile-long liquorice stick and impedes the filmís comic rhythm. It never seems to find a footing as sure as, say, Scott Frank found in scripting Elmore Leonardís Get Shorty. The Whole Nine Yards is another dig at the softer, stupider side of gangster life, and it sits somewhere between Get Shorty and Analyze This or My Blue Heaven. Mitchell Kapnerís amusing - if unnecessarily intricate - script, is rife with implausibilities. Why would a hitman like Jimmy want to bond with a dufus like Oz? Why was Oz married to the manipulative Sophie (whoís much older than him) in the first place? Without a sure sense of its own comically fuzzy logic in place, The Whole Nine Yards falls short of being the really tight, really funny black comedy that it was so close to being. Weíre left to laugh at Perry's patented paranoid humour (which is tweaked to keep it fresh and unexpected) and Willisí slick one liners and derailed sense of morality. "Itís not how many people Iíve killed thatís important," he explains, "it's how I get along with the people that are still alive." After surprisingly good turns in the unfamiliar territory of The Sixth Sense and The Story of Us, Willis returns to solid ground as a gangster here, and gives a bemused low-key performance, never wanting to overburden Perryís central role. Henstridge, sporting a gorgeous Grace Kelly-ness about her, is likewise surprisingly good as the token femme fatale. Clark Duncan is fine, but this is the type of role heís in danger of being typecast in. This film is decent entertainment for the average filmgoer, but the discerning viewer may be left wanting a little more guts to all the glory here. Itís called The Whole Nine Yards, but it never quite goes the distance."
Shannon J Harvey

"First, a confession - I like Bruce Willis. He was terrific in The Sixth Sense and now he displays a smooth, laconic style that feels right for, well... a hitman. In The Whole Nine Yards he personifies the kind of cool arrogance required (Iíd imagine) of a contract killer. Heís the foundation of this likeable but at times really silly comedy. Matthew Perry gets a chance to play off Willis as a confused, kind hearted dentist. But every time theyíre on screen together, Willis runs rings around him. Perry shows some good comic timing; but has to rely on physical comedy all too often. The actors however are hamstrung by a script thatís way too complicated for its own good. The cross/double cross is a staple of the crime genre; but when youíre going for comedy, it pays to stick by the KISS (keep it simple, stupid) principle - as in Analyze This. The twists are so numerous, they canít all be wrapped up at the end (no matter what the scripted dialogue tries to tell you). But then, this isnít a movie to get your brain out of first gear. You do however have to be a little concerned about a film which seems to say itís OK to kill people, provided youíre really truly in love (!) Perry and Willis get decent support from Natasha Hestridge, Oscar nominee Michael Duncan Clarke and Amanda Peet (who gets one of the best scenes in the film), but Rosanna Arquette mugs outrageously. The Whole Nine Yards is an undemanding comedic crime caper - palatable but slight."
David Edwards

Email this article


Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 2


CAST: Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet, Kevin Pollack

DIRECTOR: Jonathan Lynn

PRODUCER: David Willis, Allan Kaufman

SCRIPT: Michael Kapner


EDITOR: Tom Lewis

MUSIC: Randy Edelman


RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes



VIDEO RELEASE: October 17, 2000

VIDEO DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Home Entertainment

© Urban Cinefile 1997 - 2018