April 15, 2004

The Whole Ten Yards

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The Whole Ten Yards sucked. If anything, the only goal it accomplished was in demonstrating to the world how severely a sequel can fail. Jumbled, lacking in plot, and choc full of unmotivated action, the movie reeked of an epilogue gone wrong.

Ten Yards starts off sour by being arrogantly presumptive. It assumes that everyone has already seen its predecessor, and thus provides no background information for any of its principle characters. Immediate questions, like “Why is Bruce Willis hiding out in Mexico with bunny slippers and a rifle?” remain unanswered.

Logic aside, the movie’s synopsis goes something like this: remember how the first movie ended? Of course you do. The last time we saw Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski (Bruce Willis) and Nicholas “Oz” Oseransky (Mathew Perry), they were both on the verge of living happily ever after with their respective wives in different, undisclosed locations. Trouble suddenly arises when Oz’s wife Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge) is kidnapped (without explanation or reason) by Hungarian mob godfather Lazlo Gogolac (Kevin Pollak). Although it remains a mystery within the context of the film why they would be such good friends, Oz, who is a successful dentist, calls on his old pal Jimmy, who, by the way, is a former hitman. Just for luck, Jimmy brings along his wife, Jill (Amanda Peet), also a contract killer. I’m sure you got all that. Halfway through the movie, I finally realized director Howard Deutch’s game plan. Why not mask plot holes and an inadequate story with more confusion, more twists, and an utter disregard for common sense? Why should we even root for a bunch of protagonists that are essentially all greedy whiners? How is it possible that every character gets away with waving guns around in highly public areas? How is Perry’s suit so spotless even after three days in Mexico spent running from the mob?

The cast that exuded such charm and ease in delivery during the first movie now grates on my nerves with overtly exaggerated antics. Willis actually is the least annoying character of Ten Yards. playing Jimmy with a familiarity born of repetition and gets through the movie with his signature style of furrowed brows and softly whispered threats. Perry’s Oz is basically an exaggerated version of his character on Friends. The “unlikely buddy” scenario that drove the first movie is severely lacking in this dim sequel. What powered the story was that neither the characters nor the audience knew every aspect of the story until it all came together at the end. Characters worked against each other, had sequent alliances with each other, and intentionally misled every one else. Jimmy and Oz don’t share a strong enough bond in Ten Yards because they are often on opposite ends of the information spectrum.

The strong female roles in the first movie are also surprisingly absent. Cynthia and Jill both make appearances but while Cynthia is a hostage for a hefty chunk of the movie, Jill spends most of Ten Yards shrieking out complaints in ugly bangs and runny eye makeup.

Ten Yards totes itself as an “action/comedy.” I can count on one finger how many times I actually laughed out loud, and it was only because I couldn’t get over Pollak as Lazlo, mentioning that his favorite soap opera was named “The Hourglass of My Sand Children.” Many scenes are marked with “intended humor” that materializes as “unintended blandness” There is absolutely no reason to see this movie unless you need an excuse to miss class. The whole gang is back, but that’s about all there is.

Archived article by Tracy Zhang
Red Letter Daze Movie Editor