Movie review: 'The Whole Ten Yards'

EntertainmentMoviesCrimeCrime, Law and JusticeNatasha HenstridgeHomicide

2 stars (out of 4)

Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry are together again in "The Whole Ten Yards." a sequel to the 2000 hit comedy "The Whole Nine Yards" in which Willis played a truculent hit man and Perry played an excitable dentist who lived next door.

But despite the two stars' undeniable chemistry, it's not much of a movie. Marginally better directed and better written than the original "Nine Yards," it's still a big, empty picture full of star turns, artificial energy and jokes that don't quite work, even if stars Willis and Perry do their best to slam them across.

In the sequel, the two main characters from "Nine Yards" - hit man Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski and dentist Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky - again find themselves at odds with the obnoxiously incompetent Gogolak crime family, whom they left in disarray at the end of "Nine Yards."

Now, however, with Jimmy, Oz and their new wives in Los Angeles, things start popping again. The Gogolaks, bossed by dotty crime czar and ex-con Lazlo Gogolak ( Kevin Pollak), kidnap Oz's wife Cynthia ( Natasha Henstridge), who used to be Jimmy's wife.

Lazlo is trying to flush out Jimmy, now a fussy homemaker married to Jill (Amanda Peet), the would-be hit woman who used to be Oz's assistant. And when Oz seeks help from him, it triggers a series of utterly predictable but occasionally amusing complications, usually involving a familiar Los Angeles location (the Argyle Hotel), a screw-up by Oz or a baleful glance from Jimmy.

Willis and Perry, who seem to enjoy working together, at least earn their paycheck. During the course of "Ten Yards," the two howl, smirk, dodge bullets, race around L.A. and, at one point, jump into bed and cuddle each other - all to little avail. The movie's strenuous, shiny professionalism keeps you watching, but at times, it's almost a turn-off.

"Ten Yards" is funny in a way, and there is some bounce in the edgy camaraderie of the two leads and the lithe charm of their leading ladies. Pollak gets some laughs with his bizarrely scratchy-voiced Lazlo, the father of the idiotic mobster Yanni Gogolak, whom he played in the first film. But "The Whole Ten Yards" is still an empty show and a pooped party, for all its star power and for all its dark and violent gags.

The original "Nine Yards" was another variation on a comic relationship between a brutish cynic and a more effete sidekick that has been used repeatedly in movies, most often by the French buddy-buddy comedy specialist Francis Veber ("Les Comperes," "L'Emmerdeur") but also by "Ten Yards" scripter George Gallo, in the 1988 De Niro-Grodin chase comedy "Midnight Run."

Of all these movies, "Ten Yards" is the one more fixated on homoerotic gags, drag and potential homosexuality, from the guys-in-bed gag onward.

It doesn't help. Willis' glowering, brusque minimalism and Perry's aggressively harried physical humor can distract us, but only so much, from this movie's hollow center. That goes for the comic expertise of director Deutch, who made the John Hughes young-love comedies "Pretty in Pink" and "Some Kind of Wonderful" and has a lighter touch than "Nine Yards" director Jonathan Lynn.

"Ten Yards" is mostly antic and overblown, a sequel without much sense, a reunion without much point - except as a chance for Willis and Perry to show off their chemistry in the L.A. sunshine. They're a likable pair, but their movie doesn't make its yardage.

"The Whole Ten Yards"
Directed by Howard Deutch; written by George Gallo, based on story and original characters by Mitchell Kapner; photographed by Neil Roach; edited by Seth Flaum; production designed by Virginia Randolph-Weaver; music by John Debny; produced by Elie Samaha, Allan Kaufman, Arnold Rifkin, David Willis. A Warner Brothers Pictures and Franchise Pictures release; opens Friday, April 9. Running time: 1:39. MPAA rating: PG-13 (sexual content, violence and language).
Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski - Bruce Willis
Dr. Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky - Matthew Perry
Jill Tudeski - Amanda Peet
Lazlo Gogolak - Kevin Pollak
Cynthia Tudeski Oseransky - Natasha Henstridge
Strabo Gogolak - Frank Collison

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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EntertainmentMoviesCrimeCrime, Law and JusticeNatasha HenstridgeHomicide
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