The Whole Nine Yards (2000)

reviewed by
Alex Ioshpe

DIRECTED BY: Jonathan Lynn WRITTEN BY: Mitchell Kapner CAST: Bruce Willis, Mathew Perry, Amanda Peet, Natasha Henstridge, Kevin Polack

RUNNING LENGTH: 1:40 MPAA CLASSIFICATION: R (profanity, violence, nudity) ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

"You've killed 17 people and you think that my wife is a bad person!?" -Oz, 'Whole Nine Yards' Warner Bros.

RATING: 8/10 

It's not very clever, but sweet and charmingly simple. An innocent and harmless film that will certainly cheer you up on a rainy day. Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky (MATTHEW PERRY) is a sweet dentist (if there is such a thing) living in suburban Montreal. Unsuccessful at work and unhappily married to a selfish, greedy vamp (ROSANNA ARQUETTE), he maintains his dull existence with the help of his best friend and assistant Jill (AMANDA PEET). It seems that because of his insurance Oz is worth more dead than alive. And his charming wife has already taken the liberty of hiring several professional hit men to inherit the money. On one fine morning a new neigbour is moving in next door to Oz. The problem is that he is Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski (BRUCE WILLIS ) - a hit man hiding out from a dangerous Chicago crime family. Despite their differences, Oz and Jimmy have one thing in common: someone's trying to kill them both. For Jimmy, avoiding a couple of hired killers is child's play. But for ! Oz, it's a whole new ball game. And it is here that the story gets a lot more complicated. The plot consists merely of endless complications, twists and turns. Every character wants another character dead. And it is all about the 10 million dollars.

There are times where this film is simply delightful. One of this film's achievements is the wisely assembled cast. Matthew Perry puts on a wonderful comic performance as the innocent and good-hearted dentist, which proves him as an actor capable of more than 'Friends'. Bruce Willis is truly at home; playing a character that fits not only his abilities, but also his acting history. As his loyal friend we have Michael Clarke Duncan (Oscar nominated for 'The Green Mile'), who portrays his character so expressively that it is a sheer joy to behold. And even Natasha Henstridge ('Species') performed with all her clothes on. But it's Amanda Peet ('One Fine Day'), who has accidentally become the real star of this film. She looks and acts like a clone of Julia Roberts , with the same big smile and radiance, but a talent that is uniquely her own. She delivers her lines so naturally and with such comic ease that she simply commands attention.

Director Jonathan Lynn ('My Cousin Vinnie') follows in the steps of several great mob comedies (such as the more successful 'Analyze This'), obviously too afraid to step away from the ancient formula. And though his film is fairly entertaining, it doesn't have one single original idea. Too much time is spent on the murder and defense plans, to let the cleverness develop. Simple slapstick humor and amusing lines (none of which are particularly intelligent) are the film's strength, not the characters. And that's why it sometimes feels like a collection of jokes, rather than a coherent story. At times acting provides more laughs than the script. Most of the laughs are genuine, coming one after another in a fast and rhythmic tempo. Some feel forced, but as an overall achievement Lynn's picture is funny. And much more is not required from a summer comedy. In other words Lynn does fine, but if Billy Crystal's character in 'Analyze This' would analyze him, he would probably say: "You! settle too easily for things. I think that it is a fear of rejection or disapproval. But you don't have to worry about that. Be your own man. Stand your grounds!" Because there are times when, amidst Perry's and Peet's periodic comic outbursts, you long for that almost forgotten, refreshing breeze of originality.

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