The Whole Nine Yards

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“The Whole Nine Yards” is a comedy about hit men, but it’s not as black as, say, “Gross Pointe Blank.” In fact, it’s one of the most sunshiney films I’ve ever seen about guys who get paid to kill people.

In Montreal, Nick “Oz” Oseransky (Matthew Perry) is married to an outrageously skanky French pig and making no money as a dentist. Things get interesting when hit man Jimmy Tudeski (Bruce Willis), apparently trying to stay out of harm’s way, moves in next door to him.

The two become friends, and Oz learns of Jimmy’s predicament. Seems he has $10 million available to him — but only if his wife (Natasha Henstridge) and another hit man (a wonderful Kevin Pollak) are either dead or splitting the dough with him. Since no one wants to share it, each of them wants to kill the other two.

Jimmy has no problem killing his wife; the problem is that Oz starts to fall for her and doesn’t want to see her killed. But he knows if he prevents it, Jimmy will just kill HIM. You can imagine the complexities.

Perry is his usual charming self, doing lots of slapstick but doing it surprisingly well. This is the sort of film where the physical shtick either works or gets old fast, and it holds up nicely, thanks to Perry’s finely tuned comic timing and his often-overlooked ability to use his body to get laughs that many comedians would not be able to get.

Willis is back in “fun” mode, too, giving his typical smug-mouthed performance, but clearly having a ball doing it.

The romance angle between Oz and Jimmy’s wife is not overplayed, thankfully, leaving us to just enjoy the quirky characters (two Canadian policemen are particularly entertaining) and amusing developments. “The Whole Nine Yards” won’t kill you, as they say, and it leaves some potential comedy untapped, but it’s certainly a pleasant diversion with some hearty laughs.

B- (; R, moderate profanity, one fairly graphic (but not sexy) sex scene, a scene of extended non-sexual female nudity, frequent non-bloody shooting violence.)

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