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The Whole Ten Yards

Like its predecessor, The Whole Nine Yards, the performances in The Whole Ten Yards make this film more enjoyable than it should be. The convoluted story, however, is far less entertaining.


The Whole Ten Yards picks up about two years after the events that changed the lives of Oz (Matthew Perry), Jimmy ''The Tulip'' (Bruce Willis), Jill (Amanda Peet) and Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge)--and made them a whole lot richer. Nice-guy dentist Oz is now married to Jimmy's ex-wife, Cynthia, and living in Brentwood, Calif., where he still practices dentistry. They seem happy, but Oz is so paranoid someone will come after him that he keeps an arsenal of weapons in his home, which is teeming with high-tech surveillance equipment. His suspicions, however, are not so farfetched: Turns out Cynthia is in cahoots with Jimmy, who is now married to Jill and living in Mexico, and they're planning to rob Hungarian mobster Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollak), who's just been released from prison. But Lazlo has an agenda of his own. He wants to kill Jimmy for the murder of his son, rival hitman Yanni Gogolak, a couple of years ago. When Lazlo kidnaps Cynthia to get to Jimmy (he figures Oz will spill the beans on his whereabouts), poor Oz runs off to Mexico and pleads for Jimmy's help. What Oz and Jill don't realize, however, is that they are part of a much bigger revenge plot against Lazlo, perpetrated by their own spouses, Jimmy and Cynthia.


The only thing that makes The Whole Ten Yards engaging is the returning cast, who have a playful and endearing on-screen chemistry. Willis and Perry are at the forefront, reprising their roles as Jimmy ''The Tulip'' Tudesky and Nicholas ''Oz'' Oseransky, respectively. The actors craft their characters well and uniquely, and the conflicting personalities they create--Willis' cool and collected Jimmy and Perry's nervous and scatterbrained Oz--make watching their interactions entertaining. When the two discover that the hostage in the trunk of their car has died, for example, Willis stands there unflinchingly while Perry yelps, ''It looks like he got shot in the foot! Who dies from being shot in the foot?'' Peet blends in with her own brand of humor; her klutzy character Jill is hilarious without trying to be, which is the key to her performance. Jill's hung up on the fact that although she's a professional marksman, she's never had a real kill--she's so accident-prone that her targets always die by default. Also returning for the sequel is Pollak, who played Yanni in the first film. Here, he returns as Yanni's father Lazlo, aged with the help of prosthetics and makeup. It's a great idea and the result is pretty funny, although the character is cartoonish.


Director Howard Deutch makes a valiant effort with this sequel to the 2000 hit; there's continuity in the characters although their lives have progressed since the events of the last film. The problem with The Whole Ten Yards is its story, penned by Mitchell Kapner and George Gallo. While The Whole Nine Yards had an elaborate storyline, it was easy enough to follow--everyone was basically trying to kill one another. Here, the plot's equally convoluted, but rather than interesting twists and turns we get inconsistencies and dead ends. Take Jimmy's new Suzy Homemaker role, for instance. As the film opens, Willis is traipsing around his Mexican villa in bunny slippers wearing a 'do-rag on his head, fussing over dinner and the fact that the potatoes are supposed to be ''floating around the lobster, not just stuck there.'' We find out it's all an act, but the reasons are never disclosed. By the time the film ends, audiences will be asking themselves what it was all for. Perhaps the filmmakers thought the sight of Willis as a dowdy housewife would make moviegoers laugh so hard they'd forget to ask why.

Bottom Line

Although stars Matthew Perry, Bruce Willis and Amanda Peet shine in this sequel, The Whole Ten Yards fails to go the distance and, just like the title's dubious twist on the common expression, no one seems to know what it means.