It’s been a year since all the quirky killers and the neurotic dentist from The Whole Nine Yards plugged holes in a bunch of bad guys and started new lives. The film, released in 2000, was pretty funny, in a noir Coen brothers kind of way, using its Montreal location to add panache to otherwise-ordinary gangster setups. But it didn’t really need a sequel. Still, it’s fun to see most of the first gang back and goofy in The Whole Ten Yards.
The new film gives us retired contract-killer-legend Jimmy “The Tulip” Tudeski (Bruce Willis) having married his protege, perky Jill St. Clair (Amanda Peet), and settled in Mexico. Jill is all upset because no matter how many times she tries to shoot someone, she ends up killing them by accident in some other way, such as pushing them down an elevator shaft. Boo-hoo! Poor Jill — will she ever properly kill someone? Will she ever be in the contract-killer hall of fame?
More upsetting than the failure of her trigger finger is the sight of the pitiful wimp her husband has become. Instead of the macho killer of her dreams, Jimmy has turned himself into Mr. Househusband, more concerned about the perfection of his lobster sauce than emptying his glock into somebody’s brain. (Actually, if you’re a Bruce Willis fan, seeing him in his apron and bunny slippers and fretting about reduction sauces is pretty darn hysterical.) Worse, Jimmy’s famous healthy tulip stem has gone a little, er, limp — and Jill frets that motherhood will be another one of her lost dreams.
Meanwhile Dr. “Oz” Ozeransky (Matthew Perry) has married Jimmy’s gorgeous ex-wife, Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge), and put his ill-gotten gains from the first movie to good use by building a dental complex in Los Angeles. Though Cynthia loves her husband, she misses the excitement of being married to a killer, and Oz’s obsessive security measures around the house are driving her bonkers.
Trouble’s afoot in both marriages until the release from prison of aging mobster Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollak, who played his character’s son in the first film), who brings the joys of stolen money and killing back to their empty lives. (Pollak does a pretty funny parody of the notorious Kaiser Soze villain created by Kevin Spacey in The Usual Suspects.) Lazlo is determined to track down and kill Jimmy in retaliation for the death of his son — and if he has to kidnap Cynthia and cut off her fingers one by one to get Jimmy in his snare, well, that’s just the way bad guys do business.
Lazlo, it turns out, has quite a few sons, as well as an elderly mother who runs around farting and offering cookies to people before they get killed. Sounds stupid — and it is! — but it’s actually good for a couple of chuckles. In fact, the whole movie has enough loopy humor to warrant seeing it at the bargain matinee. You’ll enjoy Ten more, however, if you first view The Whole Nine Yards on video.
— reviewed by Marci Miller