The Ten (ThinkFilm, R)

theten002When a comedy comes around that elicits not a single laugh from me, I begin to wonder.





Maybe it was the 13 years of Catholic schooling that made me so averse to the mockery of the church's teachings. Not because I'm devout or anything like that (I rejected all that I was taught, religious-wise, around sixth grade), but humor pointed at the church seems like a retread in my life; I think my friends and I thought of the same vulgar, blasphemous jokes when we were around 13. And they were much funnier back then. The Ten, from the creators of The State and Wet Hot American Summer (both wildly clever in their own right), would be given too much credit if I blamed my disdain on a simple personal loathing of religious humor; it's just downright awful. With Paul Rudd as a useless narrator, director and co-writer David Wain brings us ten excruciating skits based on the ten commandments, each shockingly less funny than the next.

When a comedy comes around that elicits not a single laugh from me, I begin to wonder. The only other "comedy" this year to leave me completely stone-faced was that Eddie Murphy-as-a-fat-black-woman comedy, Norbit, and while hardly comparable, both films make for fine side-by-side comparisons on how not to make a film. Norbit was the sort of film that, had I the patience, I would sit down and make a log of every bad joke, racial stereotype, and fat gag, just to examine what makes stupid people laugh (or, better yet, what stupid producers think will make people laugh). The Ten, however, did not inspire such research, though maybe it should. How could so many smart and funny people be involved in a project so utterly vile and worthless that a company like ThinkFilm (who's released a series of excellent films like Shortbus, The King, and Spellbound) would pay over $4 million at Sundance to release this around the country? The Ten should just be one of those films that everyone quietly wipes from their minds (and résumés, for those involved) in hopes that something at least half as funny as Wet Hot American Summer would follow.

I actually thought about making this entire review an ode to late comedian Bill Hicks' opinion of Basic Instinct, which was, simply put, "piece of shit" (my feelings on Basic Instinct, however, differ). The Ten is so unfortunate of a film that it really doesn't deserve the words I'm using to bash it. I also thought about going into description of the ten little spoofs, but why bother? If only my middle school buddies and I had written a screenplay about all things blasphemous back in the day, and I wouldn't have to waste my time writing reviews for films that deserve no more than a disapproving sigh and a little rolling of the eyes. | Joe Bowman

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