It's the near future and after a bunch of terrorist bombings and a few bad plagues the populace is hanging on as best they can. A big conglomerate is about to buy up a bunch of property in Manhattan and a group of stragglers are left in a dilapidated apartment building on Mulberry Street. The apartment dwellers include: Clutch (Nick Damici) who has some history with a gay guy named Coco (Ron Brice). Together they've raised a young girl soldier Casey (Kim Blair) who has just returned fighting some war. Also living in the building are Frank (Larry Medich) who is connected to an oxygen tank and his roommate Charlie (Larry Fleischman) who can't remember if they’ve lived there 52 or 53 years. Finally there’s Kay (Bo Corre) and her young son Ross (Tim House) a family Clutch would like to be a part of but remains distant. It doesn’t matter. Soon they are all fighting for survival when people are quite literally turning into life-sized rats biting and scratching as they go. The alternative family dynamics are refreshingly out of the ordinary in this near-future world. Even though Clutch character is definitely heterosexual there's some hesitation he has about his attraction toward Kay and he's intensely connected to the flamboyant Coco. Damici who also wrote the film obviously wanted to show off his range as a rugged former boxer who also has a tender side. Old-timers Medich and Fleischman in their supporting roles are good comic relief in an otherwise bleak tale. Director Jim Mickle hands us a very dark and unforgiving future drumming up the same kind of paranoia and fear which occurred after 9/11. Mulberry Street is shot in claustrophobic surroundings as our intrepid group runs to hide in meat lockers closets and cars to escape the rat zombies. And their appearance is not as laughable as they may sound.
The Whole Ten Yards picks up about two years after the events that changed the lives of Oz (Matthew Perry) Jimmy "The Tulip" (Bruce Willis) Jill (Amanda Peet) and Cynthia (Natasha Henstridge)--and made them a whole lot richer. Nice-guy dentist Oz is now married to Jimmy's ex-wife Cynthia and living in Brentwood Calif. where he still practices dentistry. They seem happy but Oz is so paranoid someone will come after him that he keeps an arsenal of weapons in his home which is teeming with high-tech surveillance equipment. His suspicions however are not so farfetched: Turns out Cynthia is in cahoots with Jimmy who is now married to Jill and living in Mexico and they're planning to rob Hungarian mobster Lazlo Gogolak (Kevin Pollak) who's just been released from prison. But Lazlo has an agenda of his own. He wants to kill Jimmy for the murder of his son rival hitman Yanni Gogolak a couple of years ago. When Lazlo kidnaps Cynthia to get to Jimmy (he figures Oz will spill the beans on his whereabouts) poor Oz runs off to Mexico and pleads for Jimmy's help. What Oz and Jill don't realize however is that they are part of a much bigger revenge plot against Lazlo perpetrated by their own spouses Jimmy and Cynthia.
The only thing that makes The Whole Ten Yards engaging is the returning cast who have a playful and endearing on-screen chemistry. Willis and Perry are at the forefront reprising their roles as Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudesky and Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky respectively. The actors craft their characters well and uniquely and the conflicting personalities they create--Willis' cool and collected Jimmy and Perry's nervous and scatterbrained Oz--make watching their interactions entertaining. When the two discover that the hostage in the trunk of their car has died for example Willis stands there unflinchingly while Perry yelps "It looks like he got shot in the foot! Who dies from being shot in the foot?" Peet blends in with her own brand of humor; her klutzy character Jill is hilarious without trying to be which is the key to her performance. Jill's hung up on the fact that although she's a professional marksman she's never had a real kill--she's so accident-prone that her targets always die by default. Also returning for the sequel is Pollak who played Yanni in the first film. Here he returns as Yanni's father Lazlo aged with the help of prosthetics and makeup. It's a great idea and the result is pretty funny although the character is cartoonish.
Director Howard Deutch makes a valiant effort with this sequel to the 2000 hit; there's continuity in the characters although their lives have progressed since the events of the last film. The problem with The Whole Ten Yards is its story penned by Mitchell Kapner and George Gallo. While The Whole Nine Yards had an elaborate storyline it was easy enough to follow--everyone was basically trying to kill one another. Here the plot's equally convoluted but rather than interesting twists and turns we get inconsistencies and dead ends. Take Jimmy's new Suzy Homemaker role for instance. As the film opens Willis is traipsing around his Mexican villa in bunny slippers wearing a 'do-rag on his head fussing over dinner and the fact that the potatoes are supposed to be "floating around the lobster not just stuck there." We find out it's all an act but the reasons are never disclosed. By the time the film ends audiences will be asking themselves what it was all for. Perhaps the filmmakers thought the sight of Willis as a dowdy housewife would make moviegoers laugh so hard they'd forget to ask why.