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Dustin Putman

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The Whole Ten Yards (2004)
Zero Stars

Directed by Howard Deutch
Cast: Matthew Perry, Bruce Willis, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge, Kevin Pollak, Frank Collison, Johnny Messner, Tasha Smith, Silas Weir Mitchell, Elisa Gallay, Johnny Williams, Tallulah Belle Willis
2004 – 99 minutes
Rated: Rated PG-13 (for violence, language, and sexual situations).
Reviewed by Dustin Putman, April 10, 2004.

It is gravely doubtful that there is a single person on the planet who wished for a sequel to 2000's marginal mob comedy sleeper "The Whole Nine Yards." Nevertheless, here it is, a long four years later and its only reason for being to cash some paychecks. Witlessly directed by Howard Deutch (who, during the '80s, was responsible for two great John Hughes teen flicks, "Pretty in Pink" and "Some Kind of Wonderful"), "The Whole Ten Yards" is deplorable filmmaking from its first frame to the last, a laugh-free comedy overcome by an unintelligible plot and needlessly unpleasant mean streak running straight through its carcass. Worse yet, the film fails to offer up a single reason for its very existence.

For those a little foggy on the plot particulars of "The Whole Nine Yards," it is understandable; The movie, although a veritable "Gandhi" in comparison to this continuation, was a forgettable time-waster whose only claim to notoriety was its offbeat pairing of Bruce Willis (2000's "Unbreakable"), as an infamous contract killer looking to settle down, and Matthew Perry (2002's "Serving Sara"), as a suburban dentist horrified when Willis moves in next door to him. "The Whole Ten Yards" isn't so much a harmless time-waster as it is a vicious time-stealer, a worthless disgrace of a sequel whose plot forgoes narrative cohesion in exchange for a flimsy excuse simply to reunite the same cast of imbecilic characters.

Things are picked up a few years after the predecessor, with Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski (Bruce Willis) and wife Jill (Amanda Peet) experiencing marital woes at their new Mexico home. Jimmy, who has suffered from a case of erectile dysfunction, has further disappointed Jill by hanging up his gun in exchange for a spatula and a Martha Stewart-inspired sensibility, while Jill has floundered working alone in the contract killing business. Meanwhile, back in California, dentist Oz Oseransky (Matthew Perry) has barely settled down with new wife Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge) when she is suddenly kidnapped from their home by Lazlo (Kevin Pollak), a mob boss just released from prison and out to avenge his son's death. Oz instantly seeks the help of Jimmy and Jill, and the three of them set out to save Cynthia, while Jill hopes the mission with reinvigorate her marriage to Jimmy.

Bruce Willis, further ruining his career after a successful brief stint in two M. Night Shyamalan thrillers, "The Sixth Sense" and "Unbreakable," humiliates himself by wearing an apron, bunny slippers, or nothing at all in half his scenes. Furthermore, his Jimmy Tudeski is a plainly despicable character who is cruel to wife Jill and irredeemable in his careless actions. Matthew Perry fares just as ruinously as he overacts and performs endless cheap pratfalls in nearly every scene. It goes without saying that his role of Oz has become nothing more than a paper-thin joke. That leaves Natasha Henstridge (2001's "Ghosts of Mars"), as Cynthia, to basically sit around and, in one hateful, out-of-place moment, get slapped, and the reliable Amanda Peet (2003's "Identity"), as Jill, to grasp onto some remaining level of dignity. The less said about Kevin Pollak's (2002's "Juwanna Mann") nails-on-a-blackboard performance as Italian bad guy Lazlo, the better.

"The Whole Ten Yards" does not hold a single rewarding moment in its painful 99-minute running time. A series of random slapstick moments held together by an often incoherent and always amateurishly developed plot, it is one of the most embarrassingly unfunny comedies to crawl down the pike in some time. The jokey writing, bereft of anything even resembling cleverness, hits the ground with a thud upon impact. And, if at all possible, the one-dimensional characters have regressed into even bigger caricatures than they were in "The Whole Nine Yards." The general equivalent of 2003's worst picture, "The In-Laws," "The Whole Ten Yards" deserves nothing more than to be buried deep within the rubble of trash it eeked out of.
© 2004 by Dustin Putman
Dustin Putman