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Overall Rating

Awesome: 25.81%
Worth A Look: 22.58%
Pretty Bad: 9.68%
Total Crap: 0%

4 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Ten, The
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by William Goss

"Wet Hot Biblical Decalogue"
3 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2007 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: Did you find Krzysztof Kieslowski’s 'The Decalogue' to be sorely lacking laughs? Well, you’ve got at least a one-in-ten shot that David Wain’s 'The Ten' will do the trick.

Director/co-writer Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) has (re-)enlisted sketch comedy troupe The State, in addition to a couple of guest stars, for this omnibus of stories relating in varying degrees to the Ten Commandments. We have:

-A skydiver without a ‘chute (Adam Brody) who becomes a superstar in spite of his ground-bound circumstances
-A virgin librarian (Gretchen Mol) who falls for a Mexican carpenter named none other than Jesus H. Christ (a priceless Justin Theroux)
-A surgeon (co-writer Ken Marino) who murders a patient as a ‘goof’
-A white mother (Kerri Kenney) who reveals to her two black sons their father
-A family man (Liev Schreiber) who feels compelled to keep up with his neighbor’s number of CAT scan machines
-An inmate (Rob Corddry) who covets another prisoner, the above-mentioned surgeon
-A newlywed bride (Winona Ryder) who falls for a ventriloquist’s dummy
-An animated rhino (voiced by H. Jon Benjamin) that dooms a town with his chronic falsehoods
-A husband (Paul Rudd) who breaks it to his ex (Famke Janssen) that he’s moved on and married Dianne Wiest
-A husband (A.D. Miles) who stays home on Sundays to hang in the nude

Rudd and Janssen’s characters, together with Jessica Alba, participate in a series of interstitials that incorporates into the adultery themes of the eighth segment. The other portions tie into their respective Commandments with the same moderate connection: some take the theme rather literally (the neighbor one), while others use it solely as a jumping-off point for bizarre tangents (the nudist one). To boot, each and every part shares at least one character from another, for no other reason than to foster a sense of continuity.

Regardless of continuity, the laugh ratio is every bit as scattershot as a series of sketches from a comedy troupe would be. Some simply run too long (the inmate one), while others just aren’t funny (the animated one), and only one stands out as the most inspired and frequently hilarious effort: the Mexican Jesus segment. Even as the main bits transpire, a foul-minded narrator keeps things lively, and the smallest background touches sometimes turn out to bring the biggest laughs.

While that one stands on its own as a brilliant short, no other sketch manages to be as consistently creative or amusing, and the whole suffers as a result. There are certainly still humorous parts – the intros to each bit are frequently funny, and Ryder and Schreiber are surprisingly game for their screwball moments – but the duds really miss the mark with greater regularity than the hits, perhaps because the peak arrives so early on, with Rudd trying to keep the ball alive in between.

The collective effort of Wain and friends is admirable to say the least, but without a leaner focus, it’s a shaky prospect at best. Oh, there are laughs, I can assure you of that, but simply not as many as there are jokes.

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originally posted: 04/08/07 17:32:34
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2007 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2007 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 Independent Film Festival of Boston For more in the 2007 Independent Film Festival of Boston series, click here.

User Comments

1/17/09 Anonymous. a somewhat-amusing raunchfest. 3 stars
1/10/09 Lee caiphn is spot on, apparently no one funny was around to say NO! bad writer! Bad director! 2 stars
8/01/08 lori this was crude, disgusting, disturbing, and hilarious :] 4 stars
3/25/08 caiphn Unfunny...! Very unfunny, ... and when something does work, they take it too long. 2 stars
8/08/07 Steven Pointless and humorless, don't waste the money! 2 stars
8/05/07 dan moreo ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ah ha ha oh hee hee hee 5 stars
1/26/07 Joe Joe Joe Joe Joe Hilariously funny comedy def. worth a look 5 stars
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  03-Aug-2007 (R)
  DVD: 15-Jan-2008



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