The Whole Nine Yards

Lately, Bruce Willis the action hero seems to be trying to morph into Bruce Willis the actor. Willis will still make movies like Armageddon, but also throws in movies like The Sixth Sense and the little seen Breakfast of Champions. Now, The Whole Nine Yards combines the two, kind of. This time, Willis is Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski, a mob hit man hiding out in Chicago. He's not called on for much action, so this is more of an acting role. But Willis also is not called upon for much acting either. Tudeski is fresh out of jail, and hiding out in Montreal from the Chicago mob. Living next door to Tudeski are Nicholas "Oz" Oseransky and his wife Sophie.

Oz (Matthew Perry, Three to Tango, NBC's Friends) is living in a dead marriage. He hates his wife Sophie (Rosanna Arquette, Buffalo 66, Sugar Town), and she hates him back. Sophie hatches a scheme in which Oz will travel to Chicago to meet Yanni Gogolak (Kevin Pollack, End of Days, She's All That), the head of the mob out to get Tudeski. Sophie hopes that she and Oz will receive some sort of reward from Gogolak. At the same time, Sophie is hoping the mob will kill Oz. In Chicago, Oz meets up with Frankie Figs (Michael Clark Duncan, The Green Mile, Bulworth), another hit man that decides to accompany him back to Montreal. Once Oz returns to Montreal, the action heats up as everyone tries to kill everyone else.

Mitchell Kapner's script is surprisingly funny. Perry has the chance to show off his physical comedy skills, which drive much of the movie. Oz is the classic fish out of water, a normal dentist all of a sudden thrown into the world of hit men. His Oz is essentially a bumbling Chandler (oddly enough, married to Monica's real life husband's sister). Movie roles for the cast of Friends are a double-edged sword. While Lisa Kudrow and Courtney Cox Arquette manage to land good roles, David Schwimmer, Matt LeBlanc, and Jennifer Aniston troll along the bottom for bad movies. With The Whole Nine Yards, Perry begins a slow move from the latter group to the former. All Willis does is brood and smirk, which is amusing enough within the confines of the story. The best actor in the movie is Amanda Peet (Isn't She Great, WB's Jack and Jill), Oz's secretary and aspiring hit woman. She is exuberant throughout the entire movie, bringing a nice breath of fresh air to the proceedings, which become tedious well into the movie.

The story chugs along until it ends. Then, it keeps going, and ends again. Then again. The last half-hour feels forced and contrived. Also, the accents by Arquette and Pollack are hideous. But there is something satisfying about watching good actors go bad. Director Jonathan Lynn is still wallowing in the shame of his prior efforts Sgt. Bilko and Trial & Error, but he at least shows that improvement is possible. Natasha Henstridge (Bounce, Dog Park) is also wasted, though she rises above her prior bimbo roles. While there are many funny moments in the movie, there ultimately are not enough to keep it from going the distance.

Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
1 hour, 39 minutes, Rated R for some sexuality/nudity and violence.

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