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The Whole Ten Yards

Amanda Peet does not appear nude in The Whole Ten Yards, the sequel to The Whole Nine Yards (a film she did appear nude in.)

I just wanted to let you know.

Oh, still reading?

The Whole Nine Yards was my pick for best comedy of 2000. It was a simple film that attracted big name stars because of the cleverness and enjoyable plotline about a suburban dentist whose new neighbor is a contract killer. It had good laughs, good timing and the aforementioned Amanda Peet privates.

If you've forgotten what happened in Nine Yards, I'll review it now, because Ten Yards assumes you already know who everyone is and their relationship to the other characters.

Nicholas 'Oz' Oseransky (Matthew Perry) is trapped in a loveless marriage to Rosanna Arquette. When Oz learns his new neighbor is Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski, a Chicago hit--man hiding from his former boss, he freaks. Oz's wife hatches a plot to get out of her marriage and pay off her bills at the same time.

For the next 90 minutes, Oz weaves his way through a comedy caper that reveals his dental assistant Jill (Amanda Peet) had been hired by his wife to kill him, falls in love with Jimmy's ex-wife Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge), has a hand in the plot to kill mob boss Janni Gogolak (Kevin Pollack) and eventually fake Jimmy's death so Jimmy and Jill can live happily ever after while Oz and Cynthia get their own happy ending.

Got it? Good.

Armed with the same cast but new script writer and director, Ten Yards takes place a year later when Janni Gogolak's father, Lazlo Gogolak (played by Kevin Pollack in heavy makeup) is paroled from jail. He immediately gathers his Hungarian crime family and charges them with the task of getting revenge on Jimmy 'The Tulip'.

Since Jimmy is in hiding, Lazlo seeks out Oz and tells him that he is well aware Jimmy faked his death and takes Oz's wife Cynthia hostage until Oz delivers Jimmy.

Another comedy caper unfolds, but this caper isn't as interesting and the comedy is forced. While there are laughs, they are obvious ones like Willis and Perry in bed together, Willis wearing bunny slippers or Perry taking prat falls.

The majority of the blame goes to the new script writer. No time is taken to establish the characters for people that didn't see the first film nor to remind people that saw Nine Yards why they liked the characters to begin with.

Director Howard Deutch (director of Pretty in Pink and Some Kind of Wonderful) isn't able to wrangle the film into a coherent tale either. Scenes unfold rapid fire to hit the laughs and quickly get out before a plot can be solidly laid down which leaves the film a jumbled mess of obvious twists and giggles in the end. Without a plot foundation for the characters to interact with, they come off as one dimensional.

The cast seems to be having the same fun they did in Nine Yards without expending too much energy. Willis skates by on his usual charm, while Perry slides his performance back a notch to remind us why Friends' cast members don't often carry their success to film.

Nine Yards took Amanda Peet from the obscurity of the WB network into mainstream movies with her quirky portrayal of Jill St. Claire, but Peet can't recapture that likeability this time around. Natasha Henstridge is fine in her role, but isn't given much to do other than be the damsel in distress.

Kevin Pollack flexes his character acting skills with his abusive Hungarian Mr. Magoo impression, but falls into the trap of telling a quantity of jokes rather than just the quality ones.

The Whole Ten Yards is a classic example of going to the well once too often, as it will only succeed in tarnishing the enjoyability of Whole Nine Yards. A poor script and mediocre everything else equal a ho-hum movie

Not even a naked Amanda Peet could have saved this one.


Michael Goodson

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