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1/26/08

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Making a comedy compilation based on the Ten Commandments, is a wonderful idea. Actually pulling it off, is much tougher. The comedy group The State does an okay job with it in The Ten. Some of the skits are brilliant and had me laughing throughout, some of the other skits, not so much. But if you're a fan of offbeat comedies, you should check out the film for yourself.


The film suffers from constantly returning to a narrator character in the form of the usually funny Paul Rudd. He lives in some sort of black void with two huge stone tablets with the Ten Commandments on them. Between each story, we're taken back to him and the continuing story of him cheating on his wife, played by a game Famke Janssen. But it's not funny, and the film keeps returning there, dragging the film down instead of keeping a good rhythm. They should have found a better way to transition between the stories.


I'd say six-and-a-half of the stories are pretty funny. I found three of them to be particularly good. In thou shall not worship false idols: Adam Brody jumps out of an airplane without a parachute, he survives but is stuck up to his chest in the ground, if he's moved, he'll die. He becomes a celebrity for a short while, even getting his own sitcom. The whole idea of being famous for being stuck in the ground, and the image of Brody with his foot sticking awkwardly out of the ground near his head, is consistently funny.


In Thou Shall not take the Lord's name in vain: Gretchen Mol, who even knew she could be funny, plays a Librarian who takes an extended trip to Mexico, where she falls in love with the resurrected Jesus. She has a torrid love affair with him, repeatedly calling out his name, while they're having sex. Jesus is played by the always cool Justin Theroux. In Keep the Sabbath sacred: A guy refuses to go to church, instead comes up with the idea of Naked Sundays. His idea is so beloved, his house is soon full of guys skipping church to frolic naked while listening to the sultry sounds of Roberta Flack. The skit ends with a hilarious song about nakedness.


There's some decent stuff with Winona Ryder falling in love with a ventriloquist dummy. A semi funny bit about the usually deadly, serious Liev Schreiber, coveting his neighbors cat-scan machines, until both their houses are full of them. And some really lame skits about a doctor killing somebody on a goof and then getting repeatedly prison raped. The film is all over the place and with some of the stories, they're really stretching for any relevance to the actual Commandments.


The Ten has an amazing cast; and everybody throws themselves into these goofy roles full throttle. But the writing is where the film suffers, sometimes the jokes hit a home run, but a lot more of them strike out. I thought that The State's previous film: Wet Hot American Summer, was a much better film, better told and more consistently funny. If you haven't seen that film, I suggest it instead. If you've seen it, you could do worse than The Ten, but hopefully they do a lot better with their next film.


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