The Whole Ten Yards
directed by Howard Deutch
(Warner Brothers, 2004)

When they scoped out a plot for The Whole Ten Yards, someone must have looked back at the successful first film and asked what was so darn funny that time around. The short list they obviously came up with was: 1) a hilarious Hungarian accent, and 2) Matthew Perry running into things and falling down.

The sequel's a no-can-lose box-office smash, right? Well, no.

For the accent, they got Kevin Pollak, who played gangster Janni Gogolak in the first movie, to ham it up as Janni's jailbird dad, Lazlo. And to really kick in the laughs, they added Frank Collison to play Janni's dim-witted brother Strabo -- and threw in a few dumb sidekicks for that extra zing. Sadly, it's just not funny for very long. But -- honestly, folks -- the accent isn't very funny, and only 10-year-old boys laugh at all those slightly mispronounced cuss words. (Too bad it was rated PG-13, thereby blocking out the apparent target audience.) Pollak, who was pretty good the first time around, is horribly bad (notice I didn't say "laughably bad," because I wasn't laughing) here.

For Matthew Perry, they got, well, Matthew Perry, reprising his role as Oz, the paranoid dentist who just happened to get mixed up with a notorious hitman and fell in love with his wife. And -- OK, I admit it -- I laughed pretty much every time he ran into something or fell down. Perry makes an art of pratfalls such that slapstick looks completely natural and entirely funny. Every time, guaranteed.

And then there's Bruce Willis, back again as Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski, contract killer. Jimmy's living in Mexico with his gorgeous apprentice/wife, where he's cooking, cleaning, naming his chickens and, apparently, having a little trouble firing his pistol, if you know what I mean. But, while his deadpan humor and cool demeanor played for big laughs before, the man's an emotional wreck now, and his fits of temper don't seem to make sense.

Filmmakers also must have realized they had a winner in The Whole Nine Yards when beautiful co-star Amanda Peet, as assassin wannabe Jill, showed her boobs. Perhaps Peet has more Hollywood clout now, however, because she got away this time with just flashing a bit from the side. Also returning as eye candy is Natasha Henstridge as Jimmy's ex-wife/Oz's current wife Cynthia, but this glamorous actress spends most of the movie sitting down.

The plot is fairly nonexistent, but revolves mostly around hostages, revenge and a whole lot of money in a bank account somewhere. Otherwise, there's some gunfights and chases and people hitting each other. For extra good measure, there's some flatulence and homosexual paranoia. Willis flashes his taut butt muscles. And there's Perry, falling down. (Although, apparently, not down the steps.)

by Tom Knapp
1 October 2005

Buy it from