The Ten

Dir: David Wain
Star: Paul Rudd, Famke Janssen, Ken Marino, Winona Ryder

An irreverent set of ten stories, inspired by the 10 commandments, might seem like fertile territory for satire; I can't help feeling this doesn't quite hit as many spots as it should, with most of the stories (briefly) told here, never really going anywhere sufficiently. A number bear little or no connection to the commandment. The first, is a case in point: the 15 minutes of celebrity endured by a skydiver who forgot his parachute and became inextricably wedged in the ground, is only tenuously linked to, 'Thou shalt not worship false gods.' A better modern parable would be, 'Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour's goods,' which becomes a tale of duelling citizens, each trying to out-do the other in stockpiling CAT-scan machines - which becomes significant when an accident during a tour at the local nuclear plant results in 75 irradiated kids, who need exactly those devices. Yes, that's the level of insanity, on which the film works pretty well.

There is certainly some irony involved in getting Ryder to star in 'Thou shalt not steal,' swiping a ventriloquist's dummy after she falls in love with it, resulting in the oddest sex-scene since Team America. But for every bit that is memorably good, there's another that's memorably bad: the "Lying Rhino" animated sequence, done in the style of a bad 1920's cartoon, is a dreadful enactment of 'Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness.' After all, these rules are maybe three thousand years old: simply bringing them into the 21st century, alone, might well have been enough fuel for the comedic fire. Dragging in prison rape for humourous effect = not really necessary. As with most anthologies, the results are somewhat random. Obviously not intended for the easily offended, I can't recommend paying any significant amounts for this, due to the wildly-varying success rate. Yet, if it strays across your cable, it's probably worth a look as it's probably not like anything else you've ever seen.

[October 2008]

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