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|August 14, 2000||
As far as recommending or not recommending The Whole Nine Yards goes, I'm sitting on the fence. That is, the fence shared by "Oz" Oseransky (Matthew Perry), an unassuming Montreal dentist married to a greedy gold-digger (Rosanna Arquette), and his new neighbour Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski (Bruce Willis), a Chicago hitman who is wanted dead by the son of the mob boss he helped put away in jail.
Despite their apparent differences, the neighbours have one thing in common: someone's trying to kill them both. Through plots and sub-plots too tedious to recall, much less recount, Oz heads to Chicago to claim the price on Jimmy's head from the angry mobster (Kevin Pollak). Eventually, Oz is drawn into a complicated set-up involving Jimmy's wife (Natasha Henstridge), another hitman (Michael Clarke Duncan from The Green Mile) and his own office receptionist (Amanda Peet).
There are some things that never go out of style. One is Mathew Perry in the Chandler-Bing-in-the-television-serial-Friends mode. Second is Bruce Willis' smirking. Third is slapstick mob comedy.
Combining all three makes The Whole Nine Yards.
Reminiscent of Analyze This (1999), which was far superior, this movie is a comic tale of mistaken identities and escalating absurdities. In a story that's as worn as the Bofors issue, the movie's success isn't due to the plot, which is contrived and rather absurd, but the likeable performances and the energetic and unapologetically cheerful gusto of the film.
Jonathan Lynn, who created the winsome My Cousin Vinny (1992), proves once again he knows how to orchestrate pandemonium.
One of the only reasons to see this movie would be Bruce Willis, who is marvelously understated and droll as the ruthless killer. Willis, wearing his trademark smirk, caresses his lines with infallible ease and panache to deliver some smooth and slick comic work.
As much as Willis holds back, Chandler Bing, oops, Perry unleashes his hamming. He bangs into windows, trips over furniture and wails rather than speaks. Amanda Peet plays dental receptionist with sexy enthusiasm, while Natasha Henstridge, as Jimmy's estranged wife, is all cool sophistication. As for Arquette, she is not in the least bit endearing with her outrageous caricature of a scheming French Canadian gold-digger and has an insufferable over-the-top accent.
Though the gags are obvious and you see them coming a mile off, the film does elicit its share of laughs though the humour is balanced off with just as many misses and ho-hum moments. If you're looking for a few harmless laughs, a plot that doesn't sweat too much, an easy night out, look no further than this one-night comedy stand.
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