FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Norman Jewison |||
Norman Jewison

Yes, he directed “Moonstruck” and two unforgettable musicals, but Jewison is also responsible for a trilogy of films focusing on racial-injustice, a whacky Cold War comedy and a signature film of Steve McQueen’s showing that he is one of the most versatile directors since Robert Wise.

This blueprint for good investigation dramas tells the story of a black Philadelphia detective investigating a murder in Mississippi who matches wits with a redneck sheriff. Groundbreaking for it’s time, this Oscar winning film is still relevant today and offers a gripping mystery with terrific dramatic performances by a complete cast of fully realized characters.

This is an amazingly funny and entertaining irreverent "Cold War" comedy about a Russian submarine stranded outside an isolated New England town, which throws the locals into a panic. Jewison does a delightful job of utilizing his all-star cast to their fullest, deftly mixing Capra-esq characters with Mel Brooks’s type situations (and vise-versa).

A bored millionaire (Steve McQueen in his prime) masterminds a flawless bank job as Faye Dunaway (an insurance investigator out to get him) identifies him as the mastermind and falls in love along the way. This is the original and the best, with all the arch stylized movie techniques of the ‘60s (including split-screen and fuzzy shallow focus) and the most erotic chess game ever captured on screen.

Recommended by CarrieSpecht

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Whole Ten Yards, The

By BrianOrndorf

April 8th, 2004

If "The Whole Nine Yards” was up your alley, there’s really no reason to skip “The Whole Ten Yards.” It shares everything with the 2000 original film, including the absence of laughs, the ocean of slapstick, and the two leads (Matthew Perry and Bruce Willis) hamming it up as if their lives depended on it.


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.

My rating: D+