The Whole Nine Yards (2001) from Johnny Web (Uncle Scoopy; Greg Wroblewski)

Critics drew a line in the sand with this film. If you liked it, you were against everything independent film stands for, and you lost your soul. scored it 1/4. Film Threat 1/5. Matinee Magazine 1/5. The Austin Chronicle 1/5.

That's just crazy. It isn't a masterpiece, but it is a fairly pleasant watch spoiled by some occasional comic overacting. Despite some hammy minor characters, Matthew Perry was fairly funny in his usual terrified schmuck persona, and Amanda Peet was dazzling and amusing as a hitwoman in training.


Amanda Peet showed her breasts in a scene where she distracted the baddies

As for the reviewers with some grasp on reality, the general consensus was that it was a sometimes tolerable Hollywood formula comedy. Some thought it was barely watchable, others found it quite entertaining. James Berardinelli scored it 2/4, Ebert 3/4, and my guess is that that represents the "correct" range. It's probably more of a guy flick, and favorable audiences probably skew younger than average, but the CinemaScore and IMDb demographic analyses show fairly strong consistency across age and gender groups.

Matthew Perry plays a Montreal dentist whose home life is a disaster, his hours filled with his detestable wife and her equally despicable mother. Perry's problems begin when a famous hit man (Bruce Willis) moves in next door. Perry recognizes him and does not have the sense to keep his mouth shut. He tells his wife (Rosanna Arquette) who the new neighbor really is, and she then concocts a plan to have the professional killer kill Perry, who she hates as much as he hates her. Her plan turns out to be completely inept and the hit man decides to use the situation to catch up on some loose ends in his own life. Blah, blah, yadda, yadda. Love quadrangle. Multiple double-crosses. As Canadian dentists say, you know the drill. Eh?

The "serious" romantic dialogue is absolutely as bad as the indie reviewers contended. I don't know why the actors said those lines instead of telling the director they just weren't natural. And Perry is completely unbelievable in the love scenes, but the serious stuff is just throwaway material which is only there to carry the comedy. The romances and the crime noir elements just aren't good enough to work on their own

DVD info from Amazon.

  • Commentary by director Jonathan Lynn

  • Cast and Crew Interview Gallery

  • Gag Reel

  • Full-screen and widescreen anamorphic (1.85) formats

Frankly, the comedy doesn't work that well, but it did have some moments. Rosanna Arquette and Kevin Pollak tried for laughs, but simply weren't funny at all. Natasha Henstridge didn't try to be funny, and Bruce Willis played it fairly straight. That left only newcomer Amanda Peet to provide the comic balance to Matthew Perry. She did well, providing lots of charm and energy, a thousand watt smile and some really sexy nudity, in a performance which stands apart from the rest of her career, demonstrating a wonderful comic potential and an enthusiasm that has never really been exploited elsewhere.

 The rest of the entertainment came from Matthew Perry himself, Chandler Binging his heart out, giving it the ol' college try.

The Critics Vote

  • General USA consensus: two and a half stars. Ebert 3/4, Berardinelli 2/4, BBC 3/5

The People Vote ...

  • Box Office Mojo. It was budgeted at $40 million for production, and the distribution/advertising costs are estimated around $23 million. It grossed $57 million in a maximum of 2900 theaters. (The studio hoped for much better, but it was a moderate hit.)
  • Exit interviews: Cinema Score. Straight B+ from men of all ages. A- from young girls, but B or B- from grown women.


The meaning of the IMDb score: 7.5 usually indicates a level of excellence equivalent to about three and a half stars from the critics. 6.0 usually indicates lukewarm watchability, comparable to approximately two and a half stars from the critics. The fives are generally not worthwhile unless they are really your kind of material, equivalent to about a two star rating from the critics. Films rated below five are generally awful even if you like that kind of film - this score is roughly equivalent to one and a half stars from the critics or even less, depending on just how far below five the rating is.

My own guideline: A means the movie is so good it will appeal to you even if you hate the genre. B means the movie is not good enough to win you over if you hate the genre, but is good enough to do so if you have an open mind about this type of film. C means it will only appeal to genre addicts, and has no crossover appeal. (C+ means it has no crossover appeal, but will be considered excellent by genre fans, while C- indicates that it we found it to be a poor movie although genre addicts find it watchable). D means you'll hate it even if you like the genre. E means that you'll hate it even if you love the genre. F means that the film is not only unappealing across-the-board, but technically inept as well.

Any film rated C- or better is recommended for fans of that type of film. Any film rated B- or better is recommended for just about anyone. We don't score films below C- that often, because we like movies and we think that most of them have at least a solid niche audience. Now that you know that, you should have serious reservations about any movie below C-.

Based on this description, this film is a C. A pleasant watch, but lacking in big laughs. The noir plot sometimes slowed down the pace of the comedy, and for my money the stretches without laughs are too lengthy. Young audiences should like it more than I did.

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