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Monday, 29 November 1999 18:00
Local opening date: 8/24/2007
Reviewed by Diane Carson
The 10 commandments as well as the seven deadly sins have provided explicit or implicit subject matter for scores of films from Cecil B. DeMille's 1956 film (and many others for cinemas and television) to David Fincher's brilliant 1995 Se7en. Now director/co-writer David Wain's The Ten takes the commandments one by one, illustrating a contemporary expression of each through diverse vignettes.

Not much more polished than a film school project0 though with better actors, some forced, silly episodes fall flat and go on too long, while a couple sketches are laugh-out loud funny. This roller coaster ride takes patience, especially since regular viewers of The Daily Show or The Colbert Report get much better contemporary satire every program, though The Ten is more personally than politically oriented.

On-screen presenter Paul Rudd links the segments, trying to introduce each new commandment when he's interrupted by his own personal problems. He gets trapped making promises to and cheating on his girlfriends, Jessica Alba and Famke Janssen. Still, he anchors the progression through the commandments. In addition, several characters show up in more than one story, but it's really the iconoclastic approach and purposefully (too purposefully to feel inspired) offensive humor that links The Ten. To illustrate so your decision is informed, in the opening moral tale, an enthusiastic skydiver (Adam Brody) forgets his parachute, ends up stuck in the ground unable to move lest he die, and effects sensationalistic news, a cult following, and a sitcom. In another, keeping up with the Joneses results in multiple CAT-scan machines being ordered with a sad conclusion. In yet another, a surgeon is outraged when convicted of murder because of what he calls "just a goof." In prison, that doctor becomes involved in a perverse love triangle, no stranger than a bride (Winona Ryder) who lavishes her affection on, shall we say, a love object incapable of returning her affection. One animated allegory called "The Lying Hippo" hopes for humor in, among other things, hippo defecation, one of the more juvenile moments among too many of them. Embedded within several cautionary tales, racial and gender satire occasionally hits the target with precision. Because those moments are too few and far between, The Ten does not reward the hour 40 minutes it requires. One principle of film has been egregiously ignored: a comedy should be funny. At Landmark's Tivoli Theatre.

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