A Review of David Wain’s “The Ten”

Go Fly a Kite!, 6 August 2007

Author: David H. Schleicher from New Jersey, USA

If you grew up watching MTV’s “The State” and made a cult classic out of “Wet Hot American Summer,” then you’ll laugh yourself silly during the latest from the same comic troupe. Others probably won’t get the humor. “The Ten” is one of those rare vignette comedies, intertwining ten insanely unique and monumentally stupid sketches about the Ten Commandments.

There’s plenty of the same absurdity, like when two men compete to see who can buy the most CAT-scan machines or a librarian (a fetching Gretchen Mol) loses her virginity to Jesus Christ, and random humor that made their past efforts so uproarious. What other comedy would be so daring to make such obscure jokes of Diane Wiest and Timothy Dalton? However, “The Ten” is far more scatological than some of the group’s earlier work and makes “Wet Hot American Summer” seem sweet and wholesome in comparison. They also go ridiculously overboard with gay-themed humor. This troupe likes to play homosexuals in the same way that Monty Python enjoyed dressing in drag as a subversive subtext to their comic styling.

While the sketches are hit and miss, it will keep you entertained as the group plumbs the depths of low-brow humor in high-brow ways. Director David Wain spoofs everything from literary chick-flicks to gritty cop and courtroom thrillers as well as emo-indie melodramas, Woody Allen, and redemption-in-prison-weepers. There’s even a quote from Shakespeare in the oddest of places. My personal favorite aspect of the film was how dead-seriously Wain directed the segment where Winona Ryder (still adorable and still with all her acting chops) has an illicit affair with a ventriloquist’s dummy. The range Ryder displays to make the joke work, as well as the way in which Wain uses the camera and frames the scenes is downright astounding.

Even when the humor is faltering, they will have you laughing at how disturbing some of it gets, especially during the emotional prison sketch. Also hilarious is their desperation to create a stupid catch phrase. Take your pick of “go fly a kite,” “juicing my pecs,” or the destined to be classic “…as a goof.” Sure, it falls apart during the last three bits, but it caps off with some hilarious original songs recalling the morals of the stories over the closing credits. Be sure to stay to the very end. I’m still laughing. I wonder if anybody else will.

Originally Published on the Internet Movie Database



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