Movie Review for The Ten (2007)

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Review #515 of 365
Movie Review of The Ten (2007) [R] 93 minutes
WIP™ Scale: $4.00
Where Viewed: Starz FilmCenter at the Tivoli, Denver, CO
When 1st Seen: 29 August 2007
Time: 4:45 pm
DVD Release Date: 15 January 2008 (click date to purchase or pre-order)
Film's Official WebsiteFilm's Trailer

Soundtrack: Down load now from Craig Wedren - The Ten (Film Soundtrack)

Directed by: David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer)
Written by: Ken Marino (Diggers) • David Wain ("Stella")

Featured Cast (Where You Might Remember Him/Her From):
Jessica Alba (F4: Rise of Silver Surfer) • Adam Brody (In the Land of Women) • Bobby Cannavale (Snakes on a Plane) • Rob Corddry (I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry) • Famke Janssen (X-men: The Last Stand) • Kerri Kenney (Reno 911!: Miami) • Ken Marino (Reno 911!: Miami) • A.D. Miles (The Pleasure of Your Company) • Gretchen Mol (The Notorious Bettie Page) • Oliver Platt (Casanova) • Paul Rudd (Knocked Up) • Winona Ryder (A Scanner Darkly) • Liev Schreiber (The Painted Veil) • Ron Silver (Find Me Guilty) • Jason Sudeikis ("Saturday Night Live") • Justin Theroux (Miami Vice) • Joe Lo Truglio (Reno 911!: Miami) • Mather Zickel (Diggers) • Michael Ziegfeld (debut)

Click for 'Review Lite' [a 150-word or less review of this film]
Out there in comedyland there are talented people who form comedy troops or loose networks. Usually, their comedy is niche-based and appeals, actually, to a relatively select group that finds their show on a cable channel and it becomes their signature show. "Reno 911!", "The State", and Broken Lizard come to mind as examples. Every so often, members of these groups get together to make a movie that, unfortunately, only they could really love. In the case of The Ten, I can sort of picture director / co-writer David Wain chatting one afternoon with writing partner Ken Marino and their ensuing brainstorming session that came to become The Ten. After seeing The Ten, it might be safe to say, there may be some things that don't make good source material for comedy films.

"…no shortage of wasted acting talent…some funny parts, in an embarrassing sort of way."
Their idea was, apparently, to write 10 short stories each one inspired by a different of the The Ten Commandments. The results are wildly uneven, sometimes too fringe or too odd that one watches nearly in a state of anxiety about what foul concept could come next. Some of the stories share some characters, and all are linked by introducing segments that occasionally border on the inane and feature Paul Rudd as Jeff Reigert who's married to Gretchen (Famke Janssen) but, in violation of the Commandments he's got carved on giant tablets constantly in his presence, he's fooling around with Liz Anne Blazer (Jessica Alba). Of the stories, there were two that were worth remembering and watching. The others were for various reasons either not that funny, not that applicable to the Commandment they were to represent, or far beyond the boundaries even non-politically correct people would accept as being hilarious.

The first of the 'good' ones stems from one of those rare ideas that comedy writers get that starts out brilliantly but eventually gets run into the ground—in this case literally and figuratively. It features Tom Hanks heir apparent, Adam Brody, as Stephen Montgomery. He's on a plane about to commit to his first solo sky dive. His fiancée, Kelly LaFonda (Winona Ryder) is with him videotaping and asking him if he's nervous. He claims to be more nervous about getting married than this jump. With that, he jumps out of the plane. Unfortunately, he forgot to put on his parachute, a fact made obvious moments later by the support guy on the plane. The good news is that Stephen lives. Now's there's a catch. The impact with the ground embedded all but a third of his torso, one hand, his head, and part of one foot below. Dr. Glenn Richie (Ken Marino), a charlatan at best as we learn in other stories, says that any attempt to move him out of the ground would like result in his immediate death. So, Stephen lives for the rest of his life half in, half out of the ground. This quickly makes him a sensation, sort of like a tourist trap. Kelly stays by him despite the fact that she really wanted a romantic honeymoon off shore. And then tv agent / producer Fielding Barnes (Ron Silver) decides to turn him into an international sensation with a new tv show. They build the set in the field around him, and it works. Soon he's on the cover of every magazine and beloved and worshipped by millions of fans. He inspires a cult following, and a bunch of kids die when they attempt to repeat his feat. Eventually his life falls into ruin as he gets involved in drugs and partying to excess. His show is cancelled and it's pretty much over for him. The moral of the story, worship no God, but God.

The second best of the stories involves two neighbors who get into a competitive war over who will have the most Cat Scan machines. Liv Schreiber's portrayal of the neighbor who covets his neighbors goods, Ray Johnson, was inspired. But, the story, which eventually comes to catastrophic conclusion when 40 or 50 middle school kids die on his front lawn, including his own son after having been exposed to a radiation leak at a nuclear power plant, and supposedly a cat scan could have saved their lives. If anyone can figure this one out, let me know.

With these being the best two of the stories, you can only imagine how bad the rest of the stories are. The worst two though involve a truly outlandishly bad prison inmate scene that has to do with not coveting your neighbor's wife, only, in this case, the neighbors are jail inmates who perform a musical number about non-consensual rape as if there is any other kind. It's hard to envision the make-up of the audience Mr. Wain and Mr. Marino thought would find this one entertaining. When Trey Parker and Matt Stone first showed the MPAA their version of Team America that involved marionettes engaging in a wild scene of intercourse, they got blasted up and down. Well, there seems to be no outcry against Winona Rider, in the second of the worst two stories, engaging fully with a stolen ventriloquist's dummy. I guess the MPAA is fine with sex between puppets as long as one is a real person.

There was no shortage of wasted acting talent in the film, which is either a tribute to someone or a sign that even great actors are finding it harder and harder to find good work. Highly religious people, this film is not for you. You will find it mostly blasphemous. It's unclear if the idea was to reboot The Ten Commandments for a new generation?

"It should be a sin to direct so much creativity and talent in mostly the wrong directions."
If so, the film doesn't work too well. Most of them do not show the importance of the Commandment directly, and the ones that do it indirectly do so in a way as to provoke more wonderment than understanding. How is a doctor who kills his patients on "a goof" and ends up in prison supposed to teach the "Thou Shalt Not Kill" Commandment for example? There are some funny parts, in an embarrassing sort of way. If the film proves one thing, it proves that there is nearly nothing left that is sacrosanct.

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Related Products from
Other Projects Featuring The Ten (2007)
Cast Members
Jessica AlbaAdam BrodyBobby Cannavale
Rob CorddryFamke JanssenKerri Kenney
Ken MarinoA.D. MilesGretchen Mol
Oliver PlattRon SilverWinona Ryder
Jason SudeikisJustin TherouxJoe Lo Truglio
Mather ZickelMichael Ziegfeld
David Wain
Ken MarinoDavid Wain
Review-lite The Ten (2007) [max of 150 words]
Somehow comedy writers David Wain and Ken Marino convinced a bunch of talented actors to star in their barely funny and even then only in an embarrassing way, film of ten short stories based on the Ten Commandments. The result is a wildly uneven collection narrated and linked by Paul Rudd's borderline inane narrative sequences that serve to set up and introduce each story. Two of the 10 are worth seeing, and two are capable of driving most decent people from the theatre. The rest are silly or banal. It seems a sin to direct so much creativity and talent in mostly the wrong directions.

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