Run time: 96 mins
In Theaters: Thursday 21st August 2008
Box Office USA: $0.5M
Distributed by: ThinkFilm
Contactmusic.com: 3.5 / 5
Rotten Tomatoes: 37%
Fresh: 30 Rotten: 51
IMDB: 5.1 / 10
Director: David Wain
Starring: Paul Rudd as Jeff Reigert, Adam Brody as Stephen Montgomery, Jon Hamm as Skydiving Guide Chris Knarl, Winona Ryder as Kelly La Fonda, Ken Marino as Dr. Glenn Richie, Ali Marsh as 'Entertainment Beat' Host George Reardon, Ron Silver as Fielding Barnes, Liev Schreiber as Ray Johnson, Jessica Alba as Liz Anne Blazer, Charlie McDermott as Jake Johnson, Thomas Lennon as Scotty Pale, Famke Janssen as Gretchen Reigert, Jason Sudeikis as Tony Contiella, Justin Theroux as Jesus H. Christ, Bobby Cannavale as Marty McBride, Rob Corddry as Duane Rosenblum, Janeane Garofalo as Nuclear Powerplant Shift Supervisor Beth Soden, Rashida Jones as Hostess Rebecca Fornier, Michael Ian Black as Prison Guard Jamberg Saivon, Joe Lo Truglio as Paul Mardino, Zak Orth as Prosecutor / Tour Guide Barge Michaelson, Gretchen Mol as Gloria Jennings
With a few celebrities on board, the group assembles (with a few exceptions) for key member David Wain's The Ten, a foul-mouthed, dirty-as-diapers, Republican-baiting retelling of the Ten Commandments. The stories are stitched together by a loose narrative thread involving a man (Paul Rudd) serving as narrator who is leaving his wife (Famke Janssen) for a younger ditz (Jessica Alba).
A natural symptom of films structured by sketch-comedy troupes is the episodic choppiness of the film's narrative. Wisely, Wain picks a subject that relates to this structure and does his best to string them together in a loose thematic construct. As expected, some commandments are just plain funnier than others. The funnier episodes bubble over with erratic wit: an animated rhino's travels, Winona Ryder falling in love with a ventriloquist dummy, Liev Schreiber squaring-off against Joe Lo Truglio to see who can get more MRI machines, Rob Corddry and Ken Marino falling in love in prison, Gretchen Mol having a wild affair with Jesus Christ (the ever-elusive Justin Theroux).
You've got to give credit to Wain and his cast that more than 50 percent of these sketches don't suck. With the exception of a flimsy Woody Allen spoof and a plodding take on "Honor Thy Father and Mother" that finds two black kids believing their father is Arnold Schwarzenegger, the sketches take pleasures in detailed laughs that consider tone and delivery above the actual setup of the joke. In fact, the biggest laughs come from moments as insignificant as a doctor (Ken Marino) describing medical malfeasance as "just a goof" to a hothead detective (Liev Schreiber).
Of course, very few of these moments match-up towards the more classic moments of The State, but most of them equal or eclipse Wain's previous effort, Wet Hot American Summer (although nothing here measures up to Christopher Meloni's mumbling camp chef). The comedy here is socially relevant in only the slightest of ways, allowing for the troupe's inherent silliness to loosen up any pretentious idea of satirical grandstanding. The best moments, however, comes when the absurdity is rooted in stereotype, like Thomas Lennon's classic Old Man sketch. Still, I guess there's no getting around the fact that both Moses and Kieslowski (The Decalogue) are rolling in their graves.
Now that's a party.