Film Reviews

The Ten David Wain

Rating - 7/10

The Ten is the second directorial feature from David Wain of the absurd comedy trio Stella.  Wain co-wrote this one with Ken Marino, who also appears, as do most of the faces that populated "The State", fondly remembered from their 90s MTV sketch show.  Amidst the incestuous cult comedy cast members are sprinkled more "serious" talent such as Winona Ryder, Liev Schreiber and Oliver Platt behaving ridiculously.  Its all very fun, and often funny, though it doesn't quite hit the lunatic, giddy rush of Wain's debut, Wet Hot American Summer.

The ten commandments each provide a sometime tenuous link to one of a loosely interwoven set of comedy shorts.  Similar to Kieslowski's Dekalog but shorter and more overtly humorous.  Paul Rudd delivers black screen interludes that get tangled up in his own moral melodrama.  The whole thing climaxes in a full cast Broadway rock number that misses the exuberant abandon it seems to have been going for.

As one might expect from such a hit and miss format, there are dry spots, where the movie seems too long for the clever, vulgar silliness it peddles.  Much more than could reasonably be expected does, however, work, and bits of brilliance pop up steadily.  Justin Theroux smoulders as an erotic Jesus.  A man literally stuck in the ground becomes a pop idol.  Ken Marino's doctor maintains a homicidal commitment to his sense of humor.  A cult of suburban husbands congregate weekly to ditch church to find their own spirituality in shared nudity and Roberta Flack.  Winona Ryder fucks a ventriloquist's dummy.  Etc.

The Ten's high point comes as a surprise, not from any of the heavy hitters but from the usually dead serious Schreiber and State second stringer Joe LoTruglio.  Competitive neighbours, they allow family, career, and hygeine to fall by the wayside to a determination to purchase more CAT Scan machines than the other.  It is here that Wain acheives the delirious absurdity he is capable of, and The Ten earns its spot in the cult comedy canon.