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Overall Rating

Awesome: 25.81%
Worth A Look: 22.58%
Just Average41.94%
Pretty Crappy: 9.68%
Sucks: 0%

4 reviews, 7 user ratings

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Ten, The
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by Jay Seaver

"No middle ground here."
5 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2007 INDEPENDENT FILM FESTIVAL OF BOSTON: Once or twice, while watching "The Ten", I wondered if the film started out as sketches about the Ten Commandments, or whether that theme came about as the filmmakers sat around and asked themselves the question: "What would get us the most free publicity of people trying to ban us?" and then seeing a news story about the Commandments being posted in government buildings. Jackpot!

Whatever the process, they came up with something pretty darn funny. Jeff Reigert (Paul Rudd) is our host for the ten sketches, but let's just say that he's not speaking from a position of moral authority, as wife Gretchen (Famke Janssen) will happily inform the audience. The bits start out as fairly ridiculous - "Thou shall not have any gods before me" revolves around a kid (Adam Brody) lodged in the ground after a skydiving accident who becomes a sitcom star - and stay there, ending with "Thou shalt honor the Sabbath", where a group of men skip church to hang around naked and compare '70s easy listening songs. It gets plenty bizarre in the middle, with notable bits about a woman (Winona Ryder) who becomes obsessed with a ventriloquist's dummy, another (Gretchen Mol) who literally finds Jesus (Justin Theroux) while on vacation in Mexico, and one about, uh, prison adultery.

There didn't seem to be much middle ground in the audience's reaction to the film: Those who enjoyed it laughed long and loud; a good number of the rest walked out. Count me in the first group; although I can't claim to have loved every segment, better than half didn't just work, but worked very well indeed. Director David Wain and his co-writer Ken Marino start us off with fourth-wall breaking absurdity even as Jeff is introducing the movie, and it sets a tone that the film only wavers from in degree. They're almost gleeful in their crudity; grinning ever-wider as they seem to ask the audience just who this bit of blasphemy is hurting.

The cast runs the gamut from relative unknowns to big Hollywood stars, who all seem to be having a ball. Winona Ryder, especially, jumps into doing broad comedy with abandon, making her character especially nutty in the "thou shalt not steal" segment. Ken Marino and Rob Corddry have a weird chemistry in their segment, playing Corddry's desire to become Marino's new prison rapist as a standard tale of adultery while always being sure to spell out "raping you in the ass... against your will"; Marino's look when he realizes that he's not really better off is priceless. One of the funniest performances comes from someone the audience never even sees - Johnathan Davis narrates the segment with Gretchen Mol in Mexico, and his deadpan Spanish narration is note-perfect.

Not every joke works, but enough do to ignore the ones that fall flat - and some of those are extended sequences. An animated segment about a lying rhinoceros drug dealer tries to get by on sheer bad taste and threatens to burn through a lot of good will; another segment mistakes name-dropping for actual comedy. That's the price of going for a constant stream of big laughs rather than playing it safe, and the escalating absurdity of neighbors buying CAT scan machines or Ryder's character earnestly seducing an inanimate wooden doll is more than worth the duds.

I liked "The Ten" a lot, laughing almost all the way through, but the people next to me walked out. So know your taste - if you like broad, go-for-broke humor, there's a good chance you'll enjoy this quite a bit. Or you'll hate it. One of the two.

link directly to this review at https://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=15641&reviewer=371
originally posted: 05/11/07 11:12:44
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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

1/16/09 Anonymous. a somewhat-amusing raunchfest. 3 stars
1/09/09 Lee caiphn is spot on, apparently no one funny was around to say NO! bad writer! Bad director! 2 stars
7/31/08 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
8/07/07 Steven Pointless and humorless, don't waste the money! 2 stars
8/04/07 dan moreo ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ah ha ha oh hee hee hee 5 stars
1/25/07 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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