The Whole Ten Yards Movie Review

There was one question that kept surfacing in my mind while watching "The Whole Ten Yards," and it wasn't what motivated this superfluous sequel (studio greed) or how anyone can be expected to keep track of all the frivolous loose ends of its disjointed manifold plot (one can't).

The question was this: Why am I even bothering to try?

In an attempt to recapture the cleverly convoluted screwball spirit of "The Whole Nine Yards" -- a 2000 comedy in which a skittish suburban dentist (Matthew Perry) had his life turned upside down when a retired hit man (Bruce Willis) moved in next door -- this overcooked movie becomes a jumble of incoherent storylines that don't converge so much as collide.

Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky (Perry) now lives in Beverly Hill with Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge), the smart, sexy ex-wife of Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski (Willis), and drives a $80,000 Porsche to his dental office in a skyscraper that bears his name -- with no explanation offered for his sudden wealth. Jimmy has moved to Mexico with Oz's ex-dental assistant and wannabe contract killer Jill St. Claire (Amanda Peet, the original picture's sublime scene-stealer) -- and there he has lost his edge, becoming an overly emotional domestic diva who shoos people off his freshly vacuumed carpets.

They're all thrown together again when Lazlo Goglolak (Kevin Pollak), brother of the goofy Hungarian mob boss killed in the first film (also played by Pollak), comes seeking revenge. But that's practically the only lucid plot point in the whole of "The Whole Ten Yards." Soon kidnappings, safe-cracking, dead chickens, vaguely comical pregnancy and impotency subplots, and even more vague secret plans reliant on ridiculous coincidence are cluttering the screen and crowding out any sense of cohesion, save that the actors seem to be having a consistently good time.

But while they may have been laughing after every take, extending that good humor out to the audience is something that proves elusive for director Howard Deutch ("The Replacements"), stuck as he is with a nebulous script that stumbles more or less forward during many roundabout detours following the characters' whim-driven bi-polar relationships. (Jimmy and Jill fight and make up half a dozen times for reasons that go largely unsubstantiated.)

Willis has a lively, wry delivery as a tough guy gone a little soft in the head and Peet ("Igby Goes Down," "Something's Gotta Give") once again proves that her talent lies in sharp supporting roles. But the mishmash of all-over-the-map emotions they're given to work with are more confusing than comedic. Perry saddles his character with the trademark mannerisms that made him famous on "Friends," becoming one big nervous tic, and Pollak is nothing but rubbery makeup, a silly accent and Shatner-like staccato speech patterns.

As for Henstridge, she hasn't much to do as a kidnap victim (which seems to have been part of some fuzzy scheme she secretly cooked up with Willis) except sit around the mobster's curiously balloon-decorated hideout. (A scene explaining the party trim must have been sloppily excised to the cutting room floor.)

So where is this all going? "The Whole Ten Yards" plays like the writers themselves didn't really know, and that's why it fails. It's not a movie made because someone had a good idea for how to follow up the funny first flick -- it's just a sequel for the sake of a sequel.


Comments

The Whole Ten Yards Rating

" Grim "

Rating: PG-13, WIDE: Friday, April 9, 2004

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