|With an opening weekend hardly indicative of spectacular ticket sales and a final box office take of around fifty-seven million dollars, it will probably be one of the great mysteries of life as to why the entire cast of The Whole Nine Yards reunited for a sequel. Well, perhaps it won't be one of life's greatest mysteries, but potential viewers might be mystified nonetheless as to why a film whose comedy wasn't that funny seems to have been worthy enough of a sequel. As the first film was not heartily praised by critics or audiences, the fact that the budget for both films was rather small (under thirty million for each minus marketing costs) might smooth over any lack of box-office clout The Whole Ten Yards will generate.|
It might be a harsh statement to declare a film dead out of the starting gate before the first reel has even kicked off, but a mere five minutes into this film, viewers will be reminded why the first movie wasn't a smashing success. Bruce Willis and Matthew Perry just don't have any comedic chemistry together. Instead of working off one another to provide a movie filled with slick jokes and quick punch lines, Willis and Perry must play through several dull interchanges that will have the audience begging for the closing credits before the first shot is even fired.
Perry does indeed have a few entertaining moments as scaredy-cat dentist, "Oz," but his performance is really just an extension of his famous "Friends" personality. In this role he is unable to separate himself from a character with whom he is so totally identified. Perhaps fans of his character on friends can take heart that "Chandler" has been brought to the big screen yet again (the first time was in The Whole Nine Yards, of course). And it seems a shame that Bruce Willis should wallow in a character whose comedic moments are few and far between.
The most believable and engaging performance in the film belongs to Amanda Peet, who plays Willis's wife "Jill," a woman who wants desperately to become as ruthless a contract killer as her husband used to be. Simply because the range of emotion she presents to the audience (from the hysterical to the comedic), she's the most lively actor in the film. Fellow female actress Natasha Henstridge has a role that can only be described as flat, playing Perry's wife "Cynthia," a character with very few interesting things to say.
Kevin Pollak's performance as the verbally challenged "Lazlo," an impossibly old Hungarian mobster, is just completely insane. And "insane" should not be equated with "entertaining" in this case. His accent is just completely off-the-wall and his most impressive claim in this film is that his misfiring jokes outnumber the rest of the cast's by at least two to one. Frank Collison, who plays Pollak's idiot son, "Strabo," has some good comic timing in a few instances, but like the rest of the cast, his jokes don't always hit the mark.
It's difficult to pin down just one reason why this film just doesn't perform well in the comedy department. The casting decisions are very suspect (there is a lack of chemistry between the players all around), but the plot of the film is a significant detraction as well. There seems to be so much emphasis on the plot that the comedy is actually mired by the convoluted mess. Just when audience members think they're going to get the key to the puzzle, the film presses on into different "character' territory that halts the plot in its tracks completely.
The film's progress is stop-and-go from the start as each time the characters sit down for a heart-to-heart, nothing happens "next." The plot is so complicated to begin with that veering off-course into scenes without any plot direction make it increasingly hard to follow (or care) where the characters are going. In a heavy case of irony, it appears as though the screenwriters were so intent on the film having a plot with substance that they trampled all over the comedic flow of the film. And since the comedy itself is nowhere near genius, the meandering plot is made only more aggravating.
The comedy in the first Yards was barely palpable, so the question remains: why make a sequel? Though it might have been a rather easy task to improve upon the original (as the original was in no way revolutionary), The Whole Ten Yards is simply devoid of any really interesting or absorbing content. The casting and plot are at the root of all the film's problems with the weak jokes only complicating matters.
Review by Kelsey Wyatt.