The Whole Ten Yards


Bruce Willis as Jimmy ‘The Tulip’ Tudeski
Matthew Perry as Nicholas ‘Oz’ Oseransky
Amanda Peet as Jill St. Claire
Kevin Pollak as Lazlo Gogolak
Natasha Henstridge as Cynthia Oseransky
Carl Ciarfalio as Goon #1
Frank Collison as Strabo Gogolak
Elisa Gallay as Anya
Christopher Gerse as Young Jimmy

In 2000, Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry from NBC’s hit sitcom “Friends” paired off in the gangster comedy, The Whole Nine Yards, a comedy about Perry’s dentist being dragged into the world of the mob when he meets Willis’ “Jimmy the Tulip. It was a surprisingly good comedy mainly due to the chemistry of the two stars.

Years later, Willis’ mob assassin has settled into a tranquil life of cooking and housecleaning with his would-be assassin wife Jill (Peet). His old pal “Oz” (Matt Perry) is married to his ex-wife Cynthia (Henstridge), in constant fear of the mobsters that first brought him into contact with Jimmy. Just when they think they’ve gotten out of the world of crime and murder, their lives are shaken up by a dangerous Hungarian mob boss (Pollak), recently released from prison, who goes after Jimmy and Oz to avenge the death of his son. When Cynthia is kidnapped, the two must put aside their differences again to work together to rescue her.

What Worked:
Sadly, not a hell of a lot. In the sequel, Bruce Willis gives the only real standout performance as Jimmy “The Tulip”, spending half the time as the tough guy from the first movie, and the other half as an overly-sensitive Martha Stewart type. Both personalities play up to what Willis does best, because he can be funny without trying, and he is clearly the movie’s MVP. Unfortunately, he switches back and forth so much with little rhyme or reason, that it’s hard to determine if it’s all an act or if he really is nuts. Either way, most of the funny bits in the movie come from him and his interaction with the others, even if these jokes do wear thin after a bit.

The only other member of the cast who gets through the movie without illiciting groans is Natasha Henstridge-you may remember her as the alien from Species–who tries to rise above the inane attempts at comedy by the rest of the cast. Considering that most of the movie she plays off Perry and Pollak’s ridiculous over-the-top performances, she gets the worst of it and comes through unscathed. Her underuse as an actress is obvious from the way she makes even the dumbest scenes work.

What Didn’t Work:
At the center of this comedy fiasco is Matt Perry, who tries his best to keep Oz interesting despite the rather one-dimensional nature of the character. Essentially, he spends most of the movie in a state of complete fear and confusion. Perry is at his best when he plays it deadpan, but that doesn’t happen, since he decides instead to scream and overreact to everything in an attempt to get laughs. When that doesn’t work, he throws in as many needless pratfalls into as short a space as possible, something that not only isn’t funny but looks dangerous to boot. (Producers quickly forget Chevy Chase and his addiction to painkillers.) Considering Perry’s own substance abuse problems, the scene where he gets drunk with Willis seems irresponsible and tasteless.

Perry’s performance is almost Oscar worthy compared to Kevin Pollak. In a movie full of dumb characters and awful performances, Pollack’s over the top performance as the crazed Hungarian mob boss “takes the pie”. Wearing a ludicrous wig and moustache, his weak attempt to get laughs comes from his ranting and raving in bad English and hitting or kicking his hired thugs. Considering how bad he is, you’d be surprised how much screen time he is given when compared to Willis and Perry. His character seems like it would fit better into a dumb kids’ comedy like Master of Disguise or Kangaroo Jack. Frank Collison as Lazlo’s son Strabo isn’t much better, playing the same sort of dumb beat-upon thug that has been seen in far too many of these movies. In a world where gangsters have been made cool by HBO’s “The Sopranos”, obvious clich├ęs like these characters fail to amuse.

The movie’s funniest bits are few and far between with the humor being categorized into two or three obvious standards: Jimmy and Jill fighting about stuff, Oz and Jimmy fighting about stuff, jokes about Jimmy’s domestic life, his sex life and his failure to get Jill pregnant, and the worst of all, how dumb the thugs chasing them are. These gags only go so far, and the lame premise of the movie leaves it to fill in the gaps with dumb slapstick humor-pratfalls, people hitting each other, etc. When that doesn’t work, they throw in the burping and farting jokes. The first movie didn’t need this type of humor to work, instead relying on the chemistry of the talented cast. This time that chemistry is stiff and forced, as if the entire cast is slumming. They are. The one exception is Pollak who acts as if this is the role of his career. It probably is.

Considering that two of the sexiest women in Hollywood appear in the movie, couldn’t we have gotten more nudity from them and less from Willis, whose backside is once again prominently displayed? Amanda Peet’s character is used more in the sequel than the first movie, but for the most part, she’s there to fight with Willis before kissing and making up. Like the first movie, she tries using sex to get her way, but one particularly painful sequence has her trying to seduce Oz. Her character is so loopy and demented that it just doesn’t work.

There are so many obvious and dumb gaffes in the movie that it’s embarrassing. Even simple things like Oz showing up at his dentist’s office at nighttime-what is the “receptionist” doing there at that time of night anyway?-and then one can clearly see that it’s still daytime outside of the windows. This is the type of mistake that a good director might have avoided.

The ending is pretty cheesy and obvious, but by then, you really won’t care anymore and just want to get the hell out of the theatre.

The Bottom Line
When a comedy has such a strong cast, it’s disappointing when it fails to deliver on the laughs. It’s even worse when it’s the sequel to an amusing comedy that presented so much potential in the pairing of Willis and Perry. The sequel’s weak plot and the decision to resort to dumb slapstick humor that just isn’t funny and hasn’t been for decades makes this one of the worst comedy sequels possibly of all time. Where The Whole Nine Yards pulled a come-from-behind touchdown, this one fumbles and never recovers.