I saw “The Whole Nine Yards” and paid enough attention to it to write a review, yet I remember nothing about it. Even reading the review doesn’t jog my memory. But here’s this sequel, cleverly called “The Whole Ten Yards,” and if the B- grade I gave its predecessor is to be believed, then the quality has dropped off considerably between the two films.
The sequel, directed by Howard Deutch (who has fallen a long way since directing “Pretty in Pink”), assumes we remember the events of the first film, so I’m not going to help it out by giving a recap. Nick “Oz” Oseranksy (Matthew Perry) is a dentist in Brentwood, Calif., married to Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge), who is the ex-wife of hitman Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski (Bruce Willis). Everyone believes Jimmy is dead, but in fact, he is living in Mexico with his wife Jill (Amanda Peet), who used to be Oz’s receptionist. (The four all had dealings with each other in the first film, of course.)
Oz lives in constant fear that the various hitmen and mobsters he encountered four years ago will come back for him, and his home is a fortress of security cameras, alarm systems and motion sensors. Cynthia thinks he’s being silly. Then she gets kidnapped by Hungarian mobsters. Who’s being silly now, Cynthia?
The Hungarians are the Gogolak family, led by aging patriarch Lazlo. He is played by Kevin Pollak, who in the first film played Lazlo’s son Yanni, whom Jimmy the Tulip killed. It is that very death that Lazlo and his crew now seek to avenge. They believe Oz was responsible, and so now Oz must find Jimmy and persuade him to help convince Lazlo otherwise.
I noted in my review of the first film that Matthew Perry does good physical slapstick. Either my tastes have changed or else Perry has, for in “The Whole Ten Yards” I find him wholly unfunny. He resembles nothing so much as a jittery sitcom character plopped into a big-screen story, out of place and desperate. He runs into things and falls down a lot. I have a theory that the more times people fall down in a non-animated film, the less funny that film actually is. For a writer, falling down is what you have your character do when you feel like you need a laugh but you can’t think of anything better.
The same goes for slapping people, which Lazlo does approximately one thousand times. Kevin Pollak, who can do comedy when he wants to, is admirably committed to the character of Lazlo; unfortunately, Lazlo is a worthless caricature whose shtick is dependent on his comical mispronunciations of English words. This gets old, believe me.
I laughed a bit at a scene where Jimmy and Oz are drunk in a bar. It has the kind of jollity and pleasantness that the first film had, the kind of sunshiny attitude that lightens a movie. Then that scene ends and we’re back to the forced, stupid shenanigans, where Oz and Jimmy wake up in bed together, having drunk themselves unconscious. Naturally, while they are still half-asleep, they cuddle and coo, Oz thinking Jimmy is Cynthia and Jimmy thinking Oz is Jill. You will recognize this comic device from the 75,000,000,000,000,000 other films and television shows in which it has already been used.
I should also mention that Lazlo’s aged mother farts a lot. It makes me sad to realize that this, too, is a comic device I have seen in 75,000,000,000,000,000 other films and television shows.
D (1 hr. 39 min.; )