Cast: Jessica Alba, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Adam Brody, Gretchen Mol, Famke Janssen, Rob Corddry, Liev Schreiber, Oliver Platt, Justin Theroux, Ken Marino
Director: David Wain
St. John's University '07
"If you always do what interests you at least one person is pleased." -Katharine Hepburn
Review By: Andrea Tuccillo
If you're a believer in random humor, The Ten will reaffirm your faith. Directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer) and written by Wain and actor
, the film is loosely based on the Ten Commandments. But if you're expecting the movie to carry religious themes and moralistic lessons, think again. The commandments simply exist as a form of structure for what would otherwise become a disjointed, albeit hilarious, set of vignettes. There are ten individual stories which each use one commandment as a jumping off point. Despite the prominent presence of God's rules, nothing is sacred in The Ten.
(a producer on this film) is Jeff the narrator who, while standing in front of two huge stone tablets, introduces each story and simultaneously breaks a commandment of his own. He's married to Gretchen (Famke Janssen), but having an affair with the younger Liz (Jessica Alba). Each story is interwoven and the extensive cast of familiar faces (Gretchen Mol, Justin Theroux, Oliver Platt, Adam Brody and Rob Corddry, to name a few) often pop up multiple times throughout.
Not all of the movie's sections are successful, but the ones that work are divine. The story involving
as Dr. Richie is a standout, mostly thanks to
's knack for finding comedy by playing it serious. He kills a patient "as a goof"Â then finds himself as an in-demand prison bitch. Yep, these segments are completely tasteless. But they're downright funny, too.
As is the story where two rivaling neighbors (a perfectly deadpan Liev Schreiber and Joe Lo Truglio) try to outdo each other by buying a ridiculous number of CAT Scan machines, or the one where a white mother (Kerri Kenney-Silver) tries to convince her two black sons that their real father is Arnold Schwarzenegger. I told you it was random, but the film's unpredictability is what makes it fun.
Parts that don't work as well? There was an animated segment which dragged. And Winona Ryder as a woman with a puppet fetish was a little much. Kudos for letting Ryder head up the Thou Shall Not Steal commandment, though. It was a nice inside jab at her klepto past.
The special features on the DVD are a godsend. They act as the perfect complement to this outrageous comedy. It's one of the rare instances where the features have substance and are just as amusing as the film itself. The audio commentary in particular is fantastic. It includes David Wain,
The DVD also includes plentiful alternate takes and deleted scenes"”all of which are well worth watching for extra laughs! A particular highlight of this bonus footage is hearing the actors try out different lines to determine which works the best.
There's a special interview with Wain,
from the SXSW Film Festival in which the interviewer does his best to get these off-the-wall buddies to answer some questions (it's impossible to get a straight answer out of these guys). A making-of featurette is brief, but it takes you behind-the-scenes of filming. Rounding out the completely satisfying extras is an exclusive episode of Wainy Days and some ringtones and wallpaper.
If you're a fan of irreverent humor, The Ten is a glorious find. If not, you might be praying for it to end. I say just allow yourself to go along for the bizarre ride and thou shall enjoy The Ten.
Movie Grade: B
DVD Features Grade: A-
Overall Grade: B+