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 The Whole Ten Yards
 Critic's Rating
 Date Posted
   18th May, 2004
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Cast: Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Natasha Henstridge
Director: Howard Deutch

You know a film is in trouble when towards its end one of the main characters says: "I am confused…what the hell is going on here?!?" It's a shrewd observation, a comment that unknowingly underscores the fact that "The Whole Ten Yards" is an unholy mess of bad story, bad acting, bad everything else. Insult to injury, the film is also a sequel (its predecessor being the less flaccid "The Whole Nine Yards") that no one asked for; a lazy project inexplicably green-lit, perhaps, to provide it's  star, Bruce Willis, with some kind of diversion on his lunch breaks.

But if every cloud has a silver lining, then Kevin Pollack's take on the character Lazlo Gogolak, an eccentric Hungarian mobster out for revenge, takes the cake here. In a comedy where every actor's mannerisms can go from mildly oddball to clinically insane at any given time, Pollack plays the main baddie with such disarming abandon that it almost makes you want to throw your hands up and wave the white flag. Enthusiastically.  Lazlo Gogolak is a cross between "The Godfather's" Don Vito Corleone and Bugs Bunny and Pollak chews him up; he delivers a wonderful, memorable performance full of energy and wit. Too bad the same cannot be said for Bruce Willis who resurrects his character, hitman Jimmy the Tulip Tudeski, or Matthew Perry as the bumbling idiot and dentist, Nicholas Oz. Both of them feel compelled to animate their characters' motivations and wear their wildly animated emotions like a bandana. In fact, with the notable exclusion of Kevin Pollak and possibly Natasha Henstridge (who plays Oz's kidnapped wife, Jill, with slinky seriousness), every other character seems to be aiming for the moon when even going over the roof would have been considered preposterous. The story (if there is one I failed to make sense of it) takes us through so many twists and turns and its characters through even more emotional see-saws that by the time the "good guys" drive into the sunset we couldn't care less about how things turned around one way or another.

Now, I wouldn't like to think that some of us will find solace in the assumption that this film at least does not making any real effort to take itself seriously and the toilet humour, the pratfalls and all those countless times when Matthew Perry walks into a wall or hits his head on pan or falls down the stairs, are in the name of entertainment, and all these things will eventually persuade us to believe that we are having a good time at the movies. I wouldn't want to think this because "The Whole Ten Yards" is banking on this very banal expectation. Ironically, looking at its box office receipts it is quite clear the film didn't even find half of the customers it thought it would. And the ones who got away will never believe their luck. - Adnan Khan

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