“The Ten” is written by the same team responsible for one of my favorite comedies of all time, “Wet Hot American Summer”. You might also know these folks from an old MTV sketch comedy show called “The State”. Some of the alumni went on to make “Reno 911” and another sort of surrealistic comedy troupe called “Stella”. I think all of these projects are brilliant (save the short-lived “Stella” TV series that was a bit of a disaster). So I was half ecstatic, half worried to see “The Ten”. Would it be the filthy surrealistic humor that I love from David Wain and Ken Marino, or would it be the flaccid failure that was the “Stella” TV show?
I was overjoyed to learn that it's the former. “The Ten” is glorious. It's very difficult to make a sketch film. Not even all the “Monty Python” movies are great. There are bound to be some weak moments, as with most film, but they will become more apparent when the moments are entire concepts for a scene. Wain and Marino were smart to start with such a strong theme: Take the 10 Commandments and write 10 scenarios in which each commandment is grossly broken. Hilarity doth ensue.
It's true, there ARE still weak moments. But they only serve to introduce characters who will go on to be a part of a really strong moment. Our narrator is the ALWAYS enjoyable Paul Rudd. (And I do mean ALWAYS. I haven't watched “The Object of My Affection” at least 5 times on Lifetime because I'm a big Jennifer Aniston RomCom fan.) Rudd introduces each story after furthering his own plot as man who is in the midst of breaking the commandment about adultery. His jilted wife is played by the tremendous Famke Jansen (Jean Grey!) who can make the phrase “There's something you're not telling me about the pec juice” uproariously funny. Trust me, it makes sense in the context of the scene. Sort of.
The film is actually filled with usually dramatic actors being absolutely hilarious. Liev Schreiber plays a man obsessed with competing with his neighbor…by buying the most CAT scan machines…with tragic results. Winona Ryder plays a woman who has a steamy affair with a ventriloquist's dummy….with tragic results! Of course, all this tragedy is actually hilarious because they are spot-on parodies of dramatic film conventions. And now that I think about it, the less you know about this film, the better. This film scored a distribution deal at Sundance, but whether that means it will be coming to a theatre near you or a streaming video website near you, I'm not sure. All I know is that “The Ten” is destined to be a comedy classic a la “The Meaning of Life” and “Kentucky Fried Movie”.
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