We need more directors willing to take risks with films like Get Out.
A fog of gloom lowers over "The Whole Ten Yards," as actors who know they're in a turkey try their best to prevail. We sense a certain desperation as dialogue mechanically grinds through unplayable scenes, and the characters arrive at moments that the movie thinks are funny but they suspect are not. This is one of those movies you look at quizzically: What did they think they were doing?
The movie is an unnecessary sequel to "The Whole Nine Yards" (2000), a movie in which many of the same actors sent completely different messages from the screen. "A subtle but unmistakable aura of jolliness sneaks from the screen," I wrote in my review of the earlier movie. "We suspect that the actors are barely suppressing giggles. This is the kind of standard material everyone could do in lockstep, but you sense inner smiles, and you suspect the actors are enjoying themselves."
The problem, I suspect, is that "The Whole Nine Yards" did everything that needed to be done with the characters, and did it well. Now the characters are back again, blinking in the footlights, embarrassed by their curtain call. The movie has the hollow, aimless aura of a beach resort in winter: The geography is the same, but the weather has turned ugly.
You will recall that the earlier film starred Bruce Willis as Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski, a professional hit man who has moved in next door to a Montreal dentist named Oz (Matthew Perry). The dentist's receptionist was Jill (Amanda Peet), a woman whose greatest ambition in life was to become a hit woman. Jimmy was in hiding from a Chicago gangster named Janni Gogolak (Kevin Pollak), who wanted him whacked.