The Whole Ten Yards (April 6/04)
The Whole Ten Yards is one of those sequels that seems to have been made for no other reason than to capitalize on the marginal success of the original. The film is more of a remake than anything else, and doesn't offer us anything new in the realm of character development. The storyline is completely disposable, and the acting is amateurish - despite the presence of some usually reliable folks, including Bruce Willis and Kevin Pollak. In short, it's a film that doesn't need to exist.
The film picks up a few years after the original, and Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski (Willis) has abandoned his violent lifestyle in favor of domestic bliss. Along with Jill (Amanda Peet), Jimmy spends his days perfecting various recipes and doting on his pet chicken, Blanche. Oz (Matthew Perry), meanwhile, is more paranoid than ever, having outfitted his home with a top-notch security system. As it turns out, he has good reason to be scared, as Lazlo Gogolak (Pollak) - the father of Janni, who was offed by Jimmy in the first film - has just been released from prison, and is now seeking to avenge his son's death.
The Whole Ten Yards continues screenwriter George Gallo's John Hughes-esque descent into mediocrity, following movies like See Spot Run and Double Take. Gallo, who started his career by writing a pair of classic comedies (Wise Guys and Midnight Run), has somehow come under the impression that bigger gags equal bigger laughs. As a result, The Whole Ten Yards is packed with comedy bits that make the Three Stooges look subtle (Perry often seems to be channeling Larry, Moe, and Curly - all at once).
Perry's astoundingly broad performance is something of a marvel, with the actor operating on an entirely separate plane from his fellow actors. It's not as though Perry's a terrible actor - he's been quite charming in a number of films, not to mention his work on Friends - but here, let loose, he mugs and grins his way through the entire story (well, he does have two quieter moments - that's right, I counted). Willis isn't much better, particularly as he struggles to keep up with Perry's manic energy; the result is perhaps his worst performance to date, and that's including the infamous Hudson Hawk debacle. Pollak, an ordinarily reliable character actor, is absolutely terrible here; over-the-top and virtually incoherent, he turns Lazlo into a sputtering caricature of every aging mob boss previously committed to celluloid.
Director Howard Deutch brings his expectedly bland style to the story, though his usually reliable point-and-shoot method fails along with everything else. The movie has a shot-on-the-cheap look to it, as though it was rushed into production (a poster for Catch Me If You Can can be glimpsed in one shot, suggesting that the studio's been hesitant to release this monstrosity). The saddest thing about The Whole Ten Yards is that it'll probably be a huge hit; after all, who can say no to Bruce Willis in bunny slippers?