Directed By: David Wain
Written by: David Wain and Ken Marino
Starring: Jessica Alba, Adam Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Rob Corddry, Famke Janssen,
Kerri Kenney, Ken Marino, A.D. Miles, Gretchen Mol, Oliver Platt, Paul Rudd,
Winona Ryder, Liev Schreiber, Ron Silver
MPAA Rated: R (Language / Violence)
The Ten Commandments. They're written in stone and they're not to be taken lightly. However, that hasn't stopped filmmaker David Wain from making a very silly, somewhat disturbing movie about them. But then, Wain is one of the founding members of the '90s television comedy troupe, The State, so silly and disturbing are pretty much givens.
Wain's film, The Ten, is essentially a series of loosely interconnected comedy vignettes, each relating to one of the Ten Commandments. One sketch has two neighbors, one played by Liev Schreiber, competing over who can own the most CAT scan machines in an absurdly funny send up of "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's goods". Another features Oliver Platt in a bizarre, strangely heartwarming turn that references "Honor thy father and thy mother", playing an Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonator hired to be the father figure for Arnold's two alleged estranged illegitimate African-American sons. Still another stars Winona Ryder in a torrid love affair with a ventriloquist's dummy. I can think of more than a few rules this sketch breaks that somehow weren't on the agenda back at Mount Sinai, but the Commandment ironically broken by Winona here is "Thou shalt not steal". What makes these sketches really work on a comedic level is that, with rare exception, they are played seriously, without mugging or overly exaggerated acting.
I admire Wain's ambitious attempt to create such a high concept comedy using only low brow humor, but his efforts are not always successful. For example, in the first and arguably weakest sketch, a man skydives without a parachute and lives, but is now planted awkwardly in the ground from the long fall. If he's moved, he'll die. "You shall have no other gods before me" is the Commandment broken when the man becomes a media sensation. In this sketch, the concept works fine but the humor falls flat. Likewise, some of the other sketches are hilarious, but their reference to a Commandment is tenuous at best.
Surprisingly, while The Ten does have a lot of bawdy fun with The Ten Commandments, it is careful not to completely disrespect them. If you enjoy comedy taken to its absurd extreme, and have a broad sense of humor secure enough to not be offended by such things as a bunch of guys skipping church to hang out naked or Jesus returning to help a librarian get her groove back, then The Ten is well worth a look. After all, it is said that God has sense of humor. For filmmaker David Wain's sake, I hope She does!
A.J.'s Movie Rating: 3 STARS (Good Stuff!)
DVD FEATURES REVIEW:
Release Date: January 15, 2008
Format: Anamorphic, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, DVD-Video, NTSC,
Subtitled, Surround Sound, Widescreen
Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada)
Number of discs: 1
Rating: R (Language / Violence)
Studio: City Lights
Run Time: 96 minutes
Audio Commentary: Okay, here's something you don't hear every day! This commentary track features filmmakers David Wain, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd with a live jazz bass accompaniment. As if that were not enough, Wain's parents also chime in to give honest opinions about their son's work. In between, Wain and company offer a lot of fun info about the making of The Ten and independent filmmaking in general. This commentary is sometimes funnier than the movie itself. Is that a sin? Nah!
Deleted Scenes: Includes a couple intentionally awkward introductions by David Wain, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd, as well as deleted or extended scenes and outtakes from virtually every segment in the movie. 16 in all!
Interview: David Wain, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd are interviewed at the 2007 South-by-Southwest Film Fesival. It runs about 7 1/2 minutes and was probably used by Wain as an example of what not to do on the movie commentary track.
Wainy Days - Episode One: A 3 minute short by David Wain. Wain plays himself... sort of a cross between Woody Allen and Reese from Malcolm in the Middle. Weird, funny stuff. More can be seen at MyDamnChannel.com!
The Making of "The Ten": A behind-the-scenes featurette. From first day of rehearsal to wrap party in just 5 minutes! As featurettes go, so does this one.
Exclusive (and outrageous) Ringtones & Wallpaper: DVD-ROM features! Hey, what more could you want? Includes 5 ringtone phrases, 1 song from the film, and 4 background wallpaper images for purchase. Charging $1.99 for a background image seems a bit much, if you ask me.
Trailers: Includes both G-rated and unrated trailers for the film. The unrated trailer is definitely the funnier one... four letter words abound!
A.J. Says: The highlight for fans of the movie are definitely the extended scenes and outtakes, especially the complete unedited Oliver Platt segment, which works well as a separate short film. For those who hated the movie, these would probably be the lowlight. Overall, a pretty solid DVD presentation.