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The Whole Ten Yards (PG-13) (2004)

Warner Bros.

Official Site

Director: Howard Deutch

Producers: Allan Kaufman, Arnold Rifkin, Elie Samaha, David Willis

Written by: Mitchell Kapner, George Gallo

Cast: Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Kevin Pollak, Natasha Henstridge


Three. That’s the number of times I laughed in this movie—three. Running at approximately an hour and a half, that’s about one laugh every 30 minutes, or three consecutive “Good Morning Miami”’s. Seriously, I think I would have had more fun poking a dead body with a stick than watching this piece of poor directorial judgment. The sketchy story, slapstick comedy, and stagnant character roles all made my feet itch to walk straight out of the theater. I don’t care if it was a free movie, I’m demanding my time back.

Still want to hear about it? Okay, fine, your wasted time. After his long-awaited release from prison, crime kingpin Lazlo Gogolak (Pollak) seeks revenge on the men who murdered his beloved son. Who are these suicidal men, you ask? West coast dentist Nicholas Oseransky (Perry) and hardboiled hitman Jimmy Tudeski (Willis), of course. Because Oseransky helped Tudeski fake his own death in The Whole Nine Yards, poor ol’ “Oz” must now deal with Gogolak on his own. But after the Hungarian homeboy kidnaps his lovely wife Cynthia (Henstridge)—who, if you don’t remember, is also Jimmy’s ex-wife—Oz has no choice but to ask Jimmy and his wife Jill (Peet) for help. (Jill, by the way, is also an assassin who at one point was hired to kill Oz while posing as his dental hygienist, although they’re best of friends now.) There’s also a subplot buried in the movie somewhere that no one—including the characters themselves—seems to understand, so I’m just going to ignore it and hope it goes away.

The entirety of this movie relies on the humor of violence, and while I totally endorse a cleverly applied dose of violence, The Whole Ten Yards takes it too far. It comes off like one big Warner Brothers cartoon or an episode of The Three Stooges. “Oh look, that person fell down the stairs—ooh ooh, and that guy just got slapped upside the head! Ha ha ha, it’s funny when people get hurt!” Think I could add my aching migraine to the list of painful antics? Then after the violence comes the verbal comedy, which isn’t any less agonizing. The hook in the last movie was the utter nonchalance and normalcy with which both Jimmy and Jill treated their murderous craft. Unfortunately, the producers of this movie never heard the saying “lightning never strikes twice” because in The Whole Ten Yards that bolt strikes again and again and again, bludgeoning the audience with its excruciating repetitiveness. The situations aren’t funny, the overexaggerated acting isn’t funny, the characters themselves aren’t funny. Willis’ tough-guy-sobbing-loudly gig isn’t funny, Peet’s I-just-want-to-shoot-somebody schtick isn’t funny, Perry’s I’m-so-confused-and-anxious persona isn’t funny, Pollak’s Hungarian-who-can’t-say-anything-correctly act isn’t funny. Class, do you see a pattern emerging here? Little Johnny, do you know? Why yes, very good Johnny, it’s that nothing is funny in this movie.

The only way I would ever recommend seeing this movie is if there was a choice between The Whole Ten Yards and, um… well… death. I hate to come off as such a hardass, but that’s nearly two hours of my life that I will Never. Get. Back. I could have been eating or watching TV, or—as I mentioned earlier—poking a dead body with a stick. On the plus side, though, at least now Dirty Dancing: Havana Nights has a playmate. Good for it.

— Emily Younger


hybridCinema Ratings Guide:

Take a pal and pay full price for both tickets.

Itís worth a full-price ticket.

Itís worth a matinee ticket.

Wait for video rental.

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