When the evil Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollack) desires payback for the murder of his son, he orders Cynthia Oseransky (Natasha Henstridge) kidnapped by his goons, hoping that her husband, hapless dentist Oz (Matthew Perry), will lead him to his ultimate goal: notorious hitman, Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski (Bruce Willis). When Oz travels down to Mexico to retrieve the presumed-dead Jimmy and fellow killer/wife, Jill (Amanda Peet), Oz gets caught up in their domestic drama instead, which interferes with the whole “wife kidnapped and about to die” situation.
Sure, there have been sequels that nobody asked for. But “Whole Ten Yards” is a sequel that LITERALLY no one asked for. A follow-up to “The Whole Nine Yards,” a medium hit (at best) from 2000, “Ten Yards” is simply more of the same. Except this time, in place of the R-rated Amanda Peet topless scene, we get the PG-13 Amanda Peet topless scene: photographed FROM BEHIND. That’s 4 years of progress in action.
The two ”Yards” films are rooted in a type of frantic slapstick comedy that always seems to spin wildly out of control, even when the jokes are working. “Ten Yards” isn’t as precisely paced as its forefather, or, frankly, as carefully thought out. “Ten Yards” is a mess, but an honest mess, and like the original, the cast looks like they’re having a blast making it, or making it up as they go, as witnessed in many scenes. “10 Yards” is the same slapsticky material, trusting heavily in Mathew Perry’s flopping abilities and Bruce Willis’s willingness to lampoon his tough guy persona. The comedy is encased in an action film shell, with various shoot-outs and murders to go along with the yucks. “Nine Yards” had the benefit of the R-rating, which always allows a little more leeway in dealing with this kind of morally tricky material; however, “Ten Yards” has been brought down to a more universally consumable PG-13, which means that any hint of darkness in the story has been replaced by pratfalls and fart jokes. Not an ideal trade off.
Because the cast is having so much fun, it’s hard to blame them when the film becomes almost persistently unfunny. Willis, Peet, and Perry work well together, achieving a nice fluid triangle of interplay that only comes from workplace comfort. Whenever the film gets into real trouble, director Howard Deutch simply instructs Perry to careen into a door or a wall for laughs, but that was already exhausted in the previous installment. Perry is funny here simply screwing around with line delivery, often making fun of the other actors, which is pretty much the only hint of originality in the picture, with everything else coasting brazenly on previously laid charms.
Basically it all comes down to whether “Nine Yards” rubbed you raw. If it didn’t, by all means, you’ll have a blast goofin’ around with Jimmy and Oz for another go-around. If you didn’t enjoy the original, there’s nothing here to recommend heading another “Yard” forward.Rating: D+