The Ten on DVD
The Ten
Released: 1/15/08
Reviewed: 12/23/07

Intro

Ten Commandments, ten stories. Sounds like a decent enough premise.

The Story

The narrator of our story is Jeff Reigart (Paul Rudd) who starts the film with a nice introduction of the ten stories that he is about to tell (in between fighting with his wife Gretchen played by Famke Janssen). Each commandment relates to one of the ten commandments, ironic since he seems to be a fan of all ten himself. It starts with a story about a man who becomes permanently embedded into the ground after a freak skydiving accident but becomes a huge celebrity sensation, eventually worshipped as a god by fans.

It ends with a man named Oliver skipping church and discovering a new joy of nudity.

In between all sorts of high and low grounds are hit including a female librarian (Gretchen Mol) who is still a virgin at 35 finding love with Jesus, a doctor that drops a surgical instrument into one of his patients as a goof, twin boys finding out who their real father is, two competing neighbors, a man in prison (Rob Corddry) finding a relationship with an already spoken for inmate, a woman finds a new obsession with ventriloquism, a cartoon about a rhino that is a pathological liar and even a story where the narrator gets his own story about his affair.

Good and the Bad

Written by David Wain (who also directed) and Ken Marino, this film broke every single preconception that I had going into the film. The starting premise of this film was really interesting to me and the opening scene with the narrator really made me feel like I was going to get to see ten interesting stories. Then I saw a man get embedded in the ground because he forgot to wear a parachute while skydiving. Yeah.

The writing in this film started really cute with some of the stories. The skydiver admittedly was a very far fetched way to start the movie but the story did eventually go somewhere and so I relented and kept watching. From there the stories seemed to progress into very odd directions that I never really saw coming as it all seemed to end up being very random. The only really consistency that I saw in this film was the very clever ways that characters would reappear throughout the film in the various stories and the interesting ways that the characters would break the fourth wall to speak either directly with the audience or make an inside joke about themselves.

Watching this film though I can’t help but feel like the writing sessions for this film was just coming with every single idea possible and then use them all without bothering to throw out the bad ones. Wain and Morino go to some very odd choices with their writing in this film and because there are so many hit or miss moments in this film, it’s really hard to commend them on the ones that they do get right since it’s hard to know if the scenes are really funny or if they are only funny because you’re comparing them to the misses.

The cast in this film were actually quite watchable throughout most of the film. Throughout most of the film, Paul Rudd and Famke Janssen are really fun to watch as the fighting married couple. Sadly they are really the only ones that really managed to keep me entertained from start to finish (and even they were on the fence for more than a couple of scenes). Some actors in this film didn’t even make it past their second scene before I had given up on them. Most notably of these actors would be Jessica Alba playing the role of Liz, the woman that Jeff is cheating on his wife with. While she was cute in the first scene, by the second scene that she was in I was tired of her.

I wish that I could say that this wasn’t the case with other members of the cast as well. Ken Morino as Dr. Glenn, for example, started really amusing and right away I was really into the character but by the time we got to the prison story, I had long stopped really caring about the character.

There were some great performances turned in on some of the smaller roles such as Rob Coordry as Duane the prison inmate and Wynona Rider as Kelly, even Ron Silver as the slick agent Fielding Barnes and Grethen Mol as Gloria Jennings were great roles that I really enjoyed.

The cast really can’t be blamed for everything that is a flaw with this film. With ten different stories to tell, the writers were really limited with how much time they had to develop each character and sadly most of the characters didn’t get enough screen time for this to happen. Possibly the most obvious example of this would be our narrator who is only on the screen for a couple of minutes at a time (besides during the story about adultery) but is still not developed enough with obvious questions from the audience being ignored such as ‘why is he in charge of telling the ten stories to the audience?’. It is hit on that it is his job but it’s never elaborated on exactly what his job is supposed to be beyond that which became a small annoyance to me as I got to the end of the film.

Extras

There is actually quite a bit offered to the audience in terms of extras starting with an audio commentary with David Wain, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd giving their thoughts on the film. After that the audience gets to view some of the more standard extras such as deleted footage and outtakes from every single story in the film (which would have been much more enjoyable if there was a play all feature instead of having to choose them all individually, one at a time), an interview with David Wain, Ken Morino and Paul Rudd at the South-by-Southwest Film Festival.

Also included is a special making of feature and exclusives like ringtones and wallpapers. The last extra included on the disc is the very first episode of the online comedy series ‘Wainy Days’ which is an online comedy project that David Wain and other cast members are the stars of. ‘Wainy Days’ is very similar to the film however in terms of jokes and acting so if you didn’t like the film or you don’t like the extra, the same will likely hold true for the other.

Overall

What started as an interesting premise that sounded like a lot of fun quickly became tired and old leaving the audience bored by the end. While this is definitely the sort of humor that will appeal to some, it’s certainly not going to hit with everyone. While the first half of the film presents itself as edgy and funny for it’s over the top antics, it quickly becomes repetitive and dull. If you’re already a fan of the comedy group ‘Stella’ or the online series ‘Wainy Days’ you might get a good kick out of this film from start to finish. Otherwise, take this one in small doses and with a huge grain of salt.

Final Grade: 72% – C

Be Sociable, Share!