|THE WHOLE NINE YARDS (2000)|
Michael Clarke Duncan
|"It doesn't matter how many people I've killed. What matters is how I get along with the people who are still alive."|
|Time: 98 mins.|
I like Matthew Perry. In fact, he's my favorite male "Friend." However, as a movie star he just doesn't make the grade. He's very talented and funny, yet somehow the films he chooses to do all rely on the "Chandler" aspects of his talent, which really works better on the small screen. Maybe he's an actor who can only play one kind of character. Time will tell. For now, in THE WHOLE NINE YARDS, he's playing the same neurotic, nice guy who falls over things alot and dates the wrong women. I didn't see this movie in the theater because it didn't look worth my time or money. It turns out I was right, but since I saw it for free on HBO I can't complain all that much. At it's most base level, the plot is interesting and had potential, but the film is torn between being an outrageous comedy, due to Perry's presence, and a mob-hit thriller, due to the presence of everyone else. Willis is great and has really good chemistry with Perry, Duncan and Peet. The film just never comes together as an entity with a single mood or purpose. The suspense, comedy and romance all fight each other for precedence as the top genre, making the story disjointed and irritating.
Perry plays Nicholas 'Oz' Oseransky, a Chicago-born dentist now living with his wife Sophie (Arquette) in Montreal. Originally in practice with Sophie's father, Oz is now saddled with his father-in-law's considerable debts since he committed suicide. His wife and mother-in-law are two of the most unlikable shrews to ever walk the face of the planet. They refuse to work and drain Oz of every penny he has. Marrying Sophie was the biggest mistake of his life and it seems the only way he's going to get rid of her is by dying himself, which she's alluded to many times. His miserable existence gets a shot in the arm when a new neighbor moves in next door. Unfortunately for him, it's noted Chicago hitman Jimmy 'The Tulip' Tudeski, who it seems is hiding out in Montreal. The Gogolack mob syndicate is looking for Jimmy because he ratted them out to the Feds and they want to deliver some retribution. Jimmy and Oz fall into an unusual friendship. Jimmy has no friends in Canada and takes a shine to the nervous, yet funny Oz. Of course, when Sophie discovers who Jimmy is, she forces Oz to go to Chicago to turn him in and potentially collect a little ransom money.
This is where things get a little nutty. Sophie tells Jimmy because she wants Oz dead and figures she can kill to birds with one stone. Oz likes Jimmy and doesn't want to carry out the plan, but he's met in Chicago by the very persuasive Frankie Figs (Duncan). Frankie brings Oz to meet Janni Gogolack (Pollack) who convinces Oz to bring Frankie to Jimmy and let nature take it's course. Oz also meets Jimmy's very attractive and very lonely wife Cynthia (Henstridge) with who he falls instantly in love. Cynthia and Jimmy are no longer together and she fears for her life because of a deal she made with Jimmy and Yanni. Are you still with me? Once back in Montreal, Oz learns that Frankie is on Jimmy's side and was just playing Yanni. He also discovers that his wife hired his new dental assistant to kill him. Jill (Peet) has always wanted to be a hit woman and is beside herself to meet the legendary Jimmy and Frankie. She realized early on that Sophie was a raving bitch and decided not to kill Oz because he was too nice. Jill and Jimmy form an instant connection and he agrees to take her under his wing.
The final third of the film has Jimmy and Yanni each using Oz to plan a hit on the other. The problem for Yanni is that Oz is on Jimmy's side. Oz is also torn because he promised Cynthia he would protect her from both men. On top of that, Sophie is still trying to hire anybody who's willing to kill Oz. The final showdown is an invariable sequence of betrayal, murder and mayhem. In an unusually funny show of nudity, Jill helps Jimmy take down the bad guys. To get there monies worth for the dental set, Oz devices a plan that uses his prodigious orthodonture skills to turn one person into another and free Cynthia from the threat on her life. In the end, alls well that ends well with love blooming on several horizons. If this sounds confusing, well, it is. There is way too much going on in this movie, way to many supporting characters and subplots. Yes, Sophie's attempts to have Oz killed help wrap the movie up in a tight little bow, but they are annoying at best and don't add much to the plot.
Plus, Arquette's accent and performance are the worst things I have ever seen. It's clear she's taken too long a break and has apparently lost what little acting talent she had to begin with. Kevin Pollack is also wasted here as the angry mobster with a silly accent. How can you take a crime boss who sounds like Elmer Fudd seriously? I don't know what the filmmakers were thinking. Peet actually turns in an admirably funny and quirky performance. She is definitely one of the film's highlights. Duncan gives a solidly amusing turn as Frankie Figs. I'm beginning to like him more and more every time I see him. As I stated earlier Perry and Willis have their moments, but unfortunately they're acting in two different movies. If you want to see a good movie with Perry, check out the underrated THREE TO TANGO. At least he's got some charm in that one. If you like any of the lead actors, you might enjoy this quirky mob comedy. Otherwise, I wouldn't waste your time.