A film review by Craig J. Koban




2004, R, 99 mins.

Jimmy the Tulip: Bruce Willis / Oz Oseransky: Matthew Perry / Jill St. Claire: Amanda Peet / Lazlo Gogolak: Kevin Pollak / Cynthia: Natasha Henstridge / Julie: Tasha Smith / Anya: Elisa Gallay / Strabo Gogolak: Frank Collison

Directed by Howard Deutch /  Written by Mitchell Kapner and George Gallo

THE WHOLE TEN YARDS is not just a bad film, but a 90 minute train wreck that would have surly destroyed the careers of Bruce Willis and company if they were not already recognizable and bankable stars.  After I finished watching this truly dreadful excuse for a comedy I was more frustrated and angry than disappointed.  This film was the sequel to the very funny and entertaining WHOLE NINE YARDS and director Jonathon Lynn created a well-made noir comedy that had likeable and humorous characters.  In the terrible hands of director Howard Duetch and screenwriter George Gallo they have achieved what is a great sequel sin – they have stripped and deconstructed away all that was good and witty with the first film and made something that is so void of laughs and amusing situations. 

I say that with the deepest of regrets.  Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, and Amanda Peet seemed to have fun with their respective roles in the 2000 original.  Here they seem more embarrassed, mannered, and lifeless, constantly being forced to enact situations that would be too crappy for a bad sitcom and exchanging dialogue that doubts their own credibility and sanity.  THE WHOLE TEN YARDS is a whole lot worse than the original. 

Desperation permeates every pore of this crapfest.  Scene after scene demonstrates this, as jokes are attempted and fail and would-be funny bits of dialogue are brought up without the necessary punchline and payoff.  In actuality, that is how much of this turkey operates - it presents scenes that they hope inspire laughs, goes to great lengths to prepare for the funny climax, and nothing happens.  Every scene feels decapitated into a comic deadzone of inanity and galactic lameness.  So much of the film inspires more groans than chuckles, and its pitiful attempts at garnering our respect and smiles seems contrived and lazy. 

Is the sight of Bruce Willis in a bad blond wig, wearing fuzzy bunny slippers and making like Martha Stewart, intrinsically funny? No.  Is the sight of an elderly woman constantly farting funny? No.   Is the thought of Matthew Perry carrying an arsenal of weapons in his house and the fact that he falls to the floor and assumes the fetal position every time he hears what he thinks is a gun shot funny?  No.  Is the thought of Amanda Peet breaking down because she wants to kill a man and can’t funny? No. 

Is this film a waste of time and a completely unnecessary sequel?  A resounding yes! 

THE WHOLE TEN YARDS is a classic graduate thesis on how to take good characters from a previous film and throw them into a redundant and moronic plot and give them things to do and words to say that would completely discredit their previous performances as the same said characters.    Here they feel so in the motions and if the scenes were allowed to be shown after the clapper was struck and the director yelled out “cut”, then maybe we would see how depressed the performers must have been making this crud.  Paychecks are nice, Mr. Willis, but haven’t you cashed enough ones already?  How much is your soul or career worth? 

The film is flavorless, lifeless, and crude, like some sort of slimy fungus that raps around a toilet bowl forever.  Its one thing that the film is not funny (I chuckled a few times and smiled twice) but the actors seemed to forget who they were playing.  The film tries to be cleaner that the first (that was an R rated film, this one is PG-13) and as a result the film is toned down to the point where the only real thing you start to look forward to is a glimpse of Amanda Peet’s breasts.  Well, I got that in the first film, but I became so bored and jilted by this lackluster exercise that I began emotional disenfranchising myself from my current mature 29 year old state of mind and reverted to a pre-pubescent, sex-starved kid and started thinking, “I want boobs”.  This is not a healthy sign from watching a comedy, and is an especially bad sign from one that wishes to be taken seriously as a critic. 

Discussing the film’s plot seems as needless as this film was, but I will humble all the dear readers out there.  In the previous film (in case you did not see it) Bruce Willis played a professional hitman named Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudesky who moved next door to a Montreal dentist named Oz (Matthew Perry).  Oz’s receptionist, Jill (played in a then funny performance by Amanda Peet) desperately wanted to be a hitman.  Meanwhile, Jimmy was in hiding from Janni Gogolak, a Chicago gangster who wanted him dead.  In the sequel, Jimmy has married Jill and she is able to make a living at killing people, but not altogether very well.  Jimmy, while she does this, is a stay at home husband and becomes as prissy as it gets. 

Of course, this is supposed to be a disguise of some sort for a plan later in the film, but the story is an insult by implying that I am an idiot for even thinking that Peet would not be able to see that the disguise is false.  Oz has subsequently married Jimmy’s former wife Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge) and they have both moved to LA. where they both think to live happily ever after.  The years have been bad for Oz, who has disintegrated into such a deep hole of paranoia that you have to wonder why such a beautiful and put together woman would stay with such a nut. 

At the end of THE WHOLE NINE YARDS Janni Gogolak was killed at the hands of Jimmy and Oz.  His father, Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollack) has been released from prison and now serves as an active crime boss with vengeance on his mind and a lust for blood.  To say that Lazlo is one of the most unconvincing, silly, overplayed, annoying, insipid, non-threatening, and moronic crime bosses ever committed to the silver screen is an understatement.  It has been proven that you can have funny mob men in comedies (look at DeNiro in ANALYZE THIS and Marlon Brando in THE FRESHMAN), but Pollack here plays the characters so over-the-top and so stereotypically that he becomes more of an offensive irritant than a funny and ironic character. Pollack is really a funny performer when he wants to be (his stand-up is outstanding) but here he is such a caricature, with a bad phony accent, outlandish clothes and glasses, and with a truly God-awful makeup job that makes his character as convincing as the single bullet theory.  He’s truly one of the comic low points of this dud.  Rule one of comedies: If you have talented people, make good use of them.  If this is not bad enough, Oz’s wife gets kidnapped and he is forced to go down to Mexico and get Jimmy’s help to rescue her, providing some offensive and poor jokes pointed at Mexicans.   

The films was an excuse to feverously check my watch, drift into daydreams, stare at my feet, and contemplate what I wanted to order at my next visit to the late night drive thru at three am.  While I was doing that, I was thinking about why this film was even given the greenlight and, more amazingly, made in the first place?  Why did  the producers feel that the first film warranted a sequel?  More importantly, I pondered (a) whether Willis has ever been more outrageously broad and terrible in a performance (b) why Matthew Perry is paid to be in movies when he’s made such turds and (c) why Amanda Peet’s character was changed from being a cute and funny character with a penchant for guns and violence into a sour character who gathers little sympathy from us.   The film’s plot is  void of any real inspiration, laughs, or genuine surprises (the final reveal at then end was about as surprising as ear wax).    The plot has no purpose, the characters are witless and dull, and the film just meanders around everywhere until individual set pieces result in comparisons to the worst that television has to offer. 

THE WHOLE TEN YARDS is the ultimate scam job, an insidiously bad comedy that attempts to cash in on a previous film that, realistically, did not have that large of a fan base as it was.  It was a comedy that inspired more painful anxiety than great laughs, and shows just how bad you can carve out performances from otherwise gifted talent.  What we are left with is a film of botched and missed opportunities, and one that will make you go back to the ticket booth and demand your whole ten bucks back.

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