Review: The Whole Nine Yards (2000)

The Whole Nine Yards (2000)

Directed by: Jonathan Lynn | 98 minutes | comedy, crime | Actors: Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Rosanna Arquette, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet, Kevin Pollak, Harland Williams, Carmen Ferland, Serge Christianssens, Renee Madeline Le Guerrier, Jean-Guy Bouchard, Howard Bilerman, Johnny Goar, Deano Clavet, Stephanie Biddle, Charles Biddle Sr., Geoff Lapp, Gary Gold, Robert Burns

Nicholas Oseransky is typically one of those people who is actually too good for this world. Nevertheless, luck does not exactly smile on him. He is married to a whiny and very demanding shrew and is in financial trouble because he has allowed his father-in-law to use his dental practice as collateral for his (now bankrupt) company. To make matters worse, he also gets a notorious ex-hit man as a new neighbor and Oz also finds out that his wife wants him killed in order to earn the money from his lucrative life insurance policy. In addition, Oz has also been persuaded by his wife to travel to Chicago to negotiate with Hungarian mob boss Janni Gogolak about the extradition of his new neighbor Jimmy Tudeski in exchange for a good chunk of money. Slowly but surely Oz gets further and further into trouble and a complicated chess game unfolds in which it is never really clear how the relationships between the various protagonists are exactly.

‘The Whole Nine Yards’ is a successful black comedy that humorously shows what happens when someone from normal civil society (largely through no fault of his own) ends up in the snake pit that is the world of organized crime. The story may be a bit unrealistic, but with a film of this type it’s not that disturbing if the film contains enough good, cynical jokes and is filled with fun and interesting characters. And on these points ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ is without a doubt perfectly fine. The film mainly uses sublime and subdued humor and does not look for exaggerated or forced absurdities. Furthermore, the film mainly has to rely on the two main characters Oz and Jimmy who are complete opposites of each other in several respects. Only about the fact that a hamburger shouldn’t have mayonnaise, both gentlemen completely agree, albeit that Jimmy is a little more annoyed by this culinary crime than Oz, as witness the following statement he makes when serving him a hamburger with mayonnaise in a restaurant. becomes: ‘I’m gonna keep the coke and the fries but I’m gonna send this burger back. And if you put any mayonnaise on it, I’m gonna come over to your house, I’ll chop your legs off, set fire to your house, and watch as you drag your bloody stumps out the door’. Oz is outgoing, chaotic, bumbling and good-natured, while Jimmy can be characterized as introverted, cool and calculating.

The role of Oz fits Matthew Perry perfectly and unlike in ‘The Whole Ten Yards’ for example, he does not exaggerate in this film. For Bruce Willis, his role as Jimmy is one of his more successful forays into the world of comedy, a genre that the American actor holds dear. Willis is apparently very much in his element as the crafty and humorous hit man Jimmy. Natasha Henstridge and Amanda Peet also do well as the gangster sweetheart and secretary/aspiring assassin respectively, and Michael Clarke Duncan makes it clear that his absence from ‘The Whole Ten Yards’ is a loss. The good acting, the dry humor and the well-developed story ensure that ‘The Whole Nine Yards’ is a film that will appeal to many viewers, especially those who love dark humor and crime comedies.

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