The Whole Nine Yards

The usual suspects: Duncan, Henstridge, Willis, Perry and Peet.
dir Jonathan Lynn scr Mitchell Kapner
with Matthew Perry, Bruce Willis, Amanda Peet, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge, Rosanna Arquette, Kevin Pollak
Warners 00/US 2 out of 5 stars
Review by Rich Cline
If anything, The Whole Nine Yards proves that the combination of crime and comedy should be left to the experts. This is a goofy, brainless hitman comedy that never quite functions successfully on any level--the jokes fall flat, the romance isn't remotely convincing and the violence is too grisly for a comedy. That said, the film is actually watchable due to a few cast members.

Oz (Perry) is a henpecked Montreal dentist held in virtual captivity by his sadistic wife (Arquette) and up to his eyeteeth in debt due to her father's embezzlement. Then a notorious hitman Jimmy (Willis) moves in next door, and soon Oz is caught up in an elaborate scheme to collect a finder's fee for handing Jimmy over to his arch enemy, the Chicago gangster Yanni (Pollak). Along for the ride we also have Oz's ambitious dental assistant (Peet), Jimmy's estranged but gorgeous wife (Henstridge) and Yanni's good-natured thug (Duncan).

The plot isn't nearly as complex as it thinks it is--and the story hinges on a few profoundly improbable points. But the real problem is that virtually everything in the film is at odds with itself: This is a fluffy comedy full of gruesome killing--but it's neither funny nor thrilling enough. And the characters are so meaningless that you don't care who lives or dies. Most are played as clowns with silly accents; and for a hitman with deeply held principles, Jimmy is just far too greedy. In the end, the film is mildly amusing and only bearable thanks to the considerable skills and charm of Perry and Duncan.

[15--themes, violence, language, nudity] 28.Mar.00
US release 18.Feb.00; UK release 19.May.00

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life's a comedy - it's all in the execution"Of the Friends, Perry has always been my favorite - I have always liked his witty sarcasm, and he just seems like someone who would have answers for everything. And Willis has been a favorite since his Moonlighting days. Because of that, we choose to see this movie. Perry portrays a dentist living with his wife (arquette) and mother-in-law in Canada, and we learn he is paying off his father-in-law's debt and they had to leave the States due to some shady business deals with insurance claims. There is no love lost between him and his wife or mother-in-law, but appears something is going on with his sexy assistant (Peet). Then a new neighbor (Willis) moves in nextdoor - one he recognizes as a hitman from Chicago - and a plot is formed. His wife convinces him to go to Chicago, rat out their neighbor, and they will get paid enough to be out of debt and can get divorced. There were a few chuckles here, but I felt it dragged in parts, where I almost fell asleep and lost interest. Not having seen a movie for a while, it felt good to be in a theatre, eating popcorn and watching a big screen again. However maybe we should have picked a better movie. It is good for a few laughs, but the plot drags and it does not have enough laughs to recommend the movie." --Laurie T, Minneapolis.

"It was really funny! I do like Perry a lot, and have always liked Willis, so that made it even better. It's one of those mob-related dilemmas that gets more and more complex as things go along. Arquette's wife character is just hateful ... you wonder why Perry continues to stay with her until you realize he is stuck. He humors her by going to Chicago, supposedly to inform Jimmy the Tulip's (Willis) mob rivals about his location. Of course, he has no intention of doing so, but they find him anyway and, as they say, hilarity ensues. There are several twists and turns which I won't mention, but I found this movie thoroughly entertaining. Or maybe I just really needed a break from my life for a couple of hours! Either way, it was worth it." --Karen G, Los Angeles.

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2000 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall