There are no laughs to be heard in Bruce Willis’ Yards sequel.
Thursday, April 8, 2004
On The Lam: Bruce Willis (left) heads for freedom in Mexico with his hit-woman wife, Amanda Peet.
Proof that most sequels should be avoided, The Whole Ten Yards vaporizes the humor of its superior 1999 precuser The Whole Nine Yards. Former cast members Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge and Kevin Pollak return to a world of goofy hit-men wherein retired hitman-turned-homebody Jimmy (Willis) has since gone on the lam in Mexico with his hit-woman wife. Accident-prone paranoid dentist Oz (Perry) seeks Willis’ assistance when his wife Cynthia (Henstridge) is kidnapped by the Hungarian mob. There’s barely a laugh to be had in this miserable pratfall-filled goose chase of a movie.
A key ingredient to any funny comedian is a wide streak of self-indulgence. When you think of John Belushi, Richard Pryor, Peter Sellers, or even younger funnymen such as Tom Green or Jim Carrey, you’re immediately hit with their shameless and utter commitment to their actions. Sadly, this golden comedic trait is missing from the cast of Ten Yards. It’s not enough to introduce Bruce Willis as an apron-wearing bitchy househusband without the actor’s essential raw attraction to that disguise.
Supposedly, Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski is attempting to confuse his wife, and the outside world, into believing that he’s lost his mind so that he can surreptitiously pull off a scheme to rob the father of one of his last hits.
Jimmy’s wife Jill (Amanda Peet) is an assassin in training, but she still hasn’t committed a clean hit. One of the best scenes in the movie is a flashback to Jill’s last job where she “twitched” when a phone rang in her victim’s hotel room and she knocked his spaghetti dinner on the floor before he arrived. Her prey ended up taking a dive out of the window without Jill ever firing a shot. The scene played with a zing because there was a precise amount of suspense, context and sudden violence that quickly shifted to dissatisfaction.
The burden of comedy in Ten Yards rests on Matthew Perry’s large shoulders. But he takes so many pratfalls that you begin to wonder how much real pain he might have suffered for so little comic reward. Director Howard Deutch (Grumpier Old Men) neglects giving Oz’s itinerant stumbling any setup. Instead of allowing the audience to see the banana peel that will miraculously attract Oz’s left foot, we are besieged with his head ceaselessly banging into doors and walls. The results are never funny, and wear on the audience as much as Bruce Willis’ interminable whining about his heartless treatment of Jill.
By the wobbly end of The Whole Ten Yards you’ll be happy to hit the exit doors.
The Whole Ten Yards [1 Star]
Directed by Howard Deutch
Starring Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge, Kevin Pollak
(Rated PG-13, 99 mins.)