January 15, 2008
Starring: Adam Brody, Rob Corddry, Famke Janssen, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ken Marino, Gretchen Mol, Oliver Platt, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Liev Schreiber, Jessica Alba, Justin Theroux, A.D. Miles,
Since The State broke up in 1995, fans of MTV’s answer to Saturday Night Live have been hoping for a reunion and the group has come close with Wet Hot American Summer (2001) and now The Ten (2007), a satire of the Ten Commandments. Imagine Krzysztof Kieslowski’s The Decalogue (1988) remade by Monty Python.
The film consists of ten vignettes – one for each commandment – introduced by Jeff Reigert (Rudd), who, we learn, is breaking one of them. The first story features the survivor (Brody) of a botched skydive and who has become firmly embedded in the ground. Unable to go anywhere, or he’ll die, he becomes a media sensation, even getting his own sitcom, much to the dismay of his fiancée Kelly (Ryder). This tale skewers the fickle nature of popular culture – one day, someone is a media darling only to be forgotten days later in favour of the next flavour of the month.
In the second story, a beautiful woman (Mol) travels to Mexico and experiences a sexual awakening with a local handyman named Jesus Christ (Theroux) who turns out to be the actual son of God. In another tale, an inept doctor (Marino) leaves a surgical instrument in a patient, “as a goof,” which results in her death and his imprisonment. Competition brought on by jealousy is the theme of the fifth story as a man (Schreiber) is envious of his neighbour’s purchase of a catscan machine and so he buys one. Their jealousy of each other escalates until both of their homes are filled with numerous machines.
In another story, a recently married woman (Ryder) becomes infatuated with a ventriloquist’s dummy and risks everything she knows to be with it. This segment features the unforgettable image of Winona Ryder having sex with a wooden doll. The next tale is an animated tale about a rhino who liked to lie as told by a bunch of homeless drug addicts. This segment climaxes with a group orgy between animated animals the likes of which has not been seen since Ralph Bakshi’s Fritz the Cat (1972).
The Ten is an amusing comedy that has its moments even though it is uneven in parts. It features the kind of bizarro humour that fans of The State have come to expect from its members. There is plenty of tasteless humour as the filmmakers lampoon the Ten Commandments by placing them in a contemporary setting in order to show how easily they are broken on a daily basis by people from all walks of life.
There is an audio commentary by director David Wain and producers/actors Ken Marino and Paul Rudd. In a novel touch, the commentators are accompanied (literally in the room with them) by a jazz musician providing snazzy background music. Wain’s parents are also present and are not afraid to criticize the film, even pointing out the parts they didn’t like in a funny way and always with affection. Wain provides plenty of filming anecdotes while Marino cracks jokes and responds to the parents’ criticism, and Rudd hardly talks unless directly asked a question. This is a pretty decent track that is entertaining with Wain’s parents as the stand-outs with their amusing and honest observations.
Also included are 15 additional scenes with an introduction by Wain, Marino and Rudd. There is almost an hour of extra footage from all ten stories. Much of this stuff doesn’t really add to the film and was wisely cut. Included are multiple takes of certain scenes that go on for way too long. Like most collections of deleted scenes, this is a mixed bag.
There is an “Interview” with Wain, Rudd and Marino at the 2007 South-By-Southwest Film Festival. The guys goof around and riff off each other, refusing to give the poor IFC interviewer a straight answer.
“Wainy Days” is a short film where Wain walks the streets of what looks like New York City and meets a woman (Elizabeth Banks) on the street. He ends up asking her out on a date.
“The Making of The Ten” takes a brief look at Wain and co. working on the film with plenty of on-the-set footage. However, there is little insight into how it all came together.
Finally, there are several trailers for the film.