WHOLE TEN YARDS, THE
Taking up the story where The Whole Nine Yards (2000) left off... in-hiding hit man Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski (Bruce Willis) is believed dead by newly paroled mob boss Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollak), after Jimmy had whacked his son Yanni. In fact, Jimmy is living in Mexico, doing the housework while his wife Jill (Amanda Peet) polishes up her own assassination techniques. Jimmy's friend, the dentist who helped falsify his dental records to 'prove' his death, Oz Oseransky (Matthew Perry) suddenly turns up begging Jimmy and Jill to rescue his wife (Jimmy's ex) Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge) who has been kidnapped by Pollak. Jimmy wouldn't bother, except for the fact that Pollak's gang have followed Oz right to Jimmy's front door and they are shooting. An enraged Jimmy, furious at Oz but dragged into the fray, has no option but to do what he does best. Crime.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Derailed from the start by an ill-conceived, supposedly anachronistic scenario of vacuum cleaner wielding Bruce Willis in apron and headscarf tied at the front like a charlady from the 50s, The Whole Ten Yards struggles to find the right tone of black comedy - but fails. Mostly overacted and overblown, the script tries to make 'outlandish' into outrageous but hardly ever manages it. Missing is the element of some discernible sense of reality that is essential to black comedy.
Hence scenes like gang boss Lazlo (Kevin Pollak) shooting dead two captives in the boot of a car, or Jimmy threatening to stick a knife in his wife's face, or an ugly incident in which Jimmy smashes a father's face into his food inside a diner while the man's young son watches, somehow don't resonate with the dark humour the filmmakers aspire to. Adding to the film's flaws is a script nearly as convulsed as, reportedly, was its Nine Yards predecessor, albeit by a different writer. (Our synopsis is a simplified and shortened version of the storyline.) I didn't see Nine Yards, but two of our critics did and they agreed it was unnecessarily intricate and complicated.
An intricate script can be clever and engaging; the challenge is to make us want to keep up with it and unravel its mysteries. No such temptations for me in Ten Yards; and even being Hungarian doesn't draw me to the faux Hungarian mobster Lazlo (should be spelt Laszlo) - or should I say especially being Hungarian.
The film rises in the final act and elicits some laughs in the manner intended, but by then it's too little too late, and we just don't care enough for any of the two dimensional characters.
Review by Louise Keller:
The pace is frenetic, the comedy is black, the performances overblown and the premise is totally over the top. The problem with this sequel is that it is so intent on being funny, it forgets to ground the action in any kind of reality, or to keep the tone of the humour in check.
Thank goodness for sparkling performances by Bruce Willis and Amanda Peet, which keep The Whole Ten Yards from total disaster. It does pick up somewhat as it revs along, working up a big head of steam after a pretty un-credible start, offering a few funny moments, droll situations and a bright, breezy music score.
Never mind that most of the performances are played as farce, limiting the credibility of any of the situations. The best thing in the film - and the only thing that we genuinely care about - is the relationship between Willis' Jimmy and Peet's Jill. And Willis and Peet are clearly having a lot of fun. Theirs is a fiery husband and wife relationship, and most of the pay-off results from the angst between them. They bicker about everything - from Jill's inability to successfully shoot anyone, to Jimmy's erectile problems. There's Jill's jealousy about Jimmy's ex-wife, and Jimmy's obsession with his chickens. 'I thought I married a contract killer, not Martha Stewart,' retorts Jill, when she comes home from a bungled killing to find her husband clad in bunny slippers, headscarf and frilly apron in the kitchen. 'Why don't you go out and kill someone tonight... what's your favourite gun?'
Matthew Perry fares less successfully as Jimmy's dentist friend Oz, mostly because we never invest emotionally in his character. It's all played for laughs, and the overblown attempt at humour surrounding the Hungarian mobsters flops like a soufflé in the hands of a sumo-wrestling giant. Except for the sweet cameo of the old Hungarian grandmother, intent on offering Hungarian delicacies and playing cards with the kidnap hostage, that is.
The Whole Ten Yards is black madcap foolery that is more miss than hit, but the key performances offer a splash of manic madness and a few timid laughs.
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WHOLE TEN YARDS, THE (M)
CAST: Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge, Kevin Pollak
PRODUCER: Elia Samaha, Arnold Rifkin, David Willis, Allan Kaufman
DIRECTOR: Howard Deutch
SCRIPT: George Gallo ( story and characters Micthell Kapner)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Neil Roach
EDITOR: Seth Flaum
MUSIC: John Debney
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Virginia Randolph-Weaver
RUNNING TIME: 98 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: 20th Century Fox
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: July 8, 2004
RIVERSIDE SNEAK PEEK PREMIERES
A program of premiere screenings of new movies prior to their commercial release
on 4 consecutive Tuesdays - March 10, 17, 24, 31, 2015 - at Riverside Theatre,
Curated & presented by Andrew L. Urban, discussion to
follow with special guests. Briefing notes provided.