Director Jonathan Lynn was enormously successful with "My Cousin Vinny", but stumbled a bit with "Trial and Error", which, although it did highlight the debut of Charleze Theron, was a pretty weak effort. With "the Whole 9 Yards", he's found not only a funny screenplay, but performers that are up to the task.
Matthew Perry of "Friends" plays Nick Ozaransky, a dentist who is married to a wife(Rosanna Arquette) who is making his life a living hell. One day, a former mob hit-man named Jimmy "the tulip" moves in next door. When his wife finds out, he wants Nick to go to Chicago to collect the finders fee from the mobsters who want Jimmy out of the picture, lead by one Yanni(Kevin Pollack) and his associate, Frankie(Michael Clarke Duncan).
He's instructed to go back with Frankie and take out Jimmy. Meanwhile, the wife has hired a hitman to take out Nick once he gets home. Even Nick's assistant(played by newcomer Amanda Peet, whose smile lights up the screen) is an aspiring assassin herself. To top it all off, Nick meets up with Jimmy's wife(Natasha Henstridge of "Species" fame) while in Chicago. It may sound like a lot to keep together, but it turns out to be a joy to watch as director Lynn piles one situation on top of another, making for a movie where there's always something (and sometimes a few things at once) going on for the 99 minute running time.
I don't think Perry has ever been better than he is here; there are some falls that he takes that are incredibly hilarious. His animated face portrays worry and fear better than any other actor, as well, which makes for a few very funny moments as he worries if he'll be around much longer. Willis and Michael Clarke Duncan are fun, as well. Willis as a relaxed charm and a natural sense of humor; he should do more comedies. Last but not least, the gorgeous Peet is sweet and enjoyable, with a great performance.
I liked this movie quite a bit; the writing is sharp and funny, and the performances are enjoyable across the board. I didn't think it was quite as good as John Cusack's hitman comedy "Grosse Pointe Blank", but it definitely comes close.
VIDEO: This is a very good transfer from Warner Brothers that keeps in line with their high standards; it's a smooth, natural looking image that is sharp and never lacking in clarity. Detail is good and images are pleasantly consistent throughout the film. Colors are natural and occasionally, have a really warm, rich look that pops nicely off the screen. Flesh tones are natural and pleasing, and black level is solid.
Problems are very minor and aren't distracting; there are one or two minor marks on the print used and a couple of little traces of artifacts. The majority of the movie though, looks great, with image quality that's very "film-like" and enjoyable. Another really solid effort from Warner Brothers. A full-frame edition is on the flip-side of the DVD
SOUND: The film is mainly dialogue driven, but there are some points where the sound opens up and becomes more lively. Surrounds are used effectively on occasion. During some of the outdoor scenes, there is a nice sense of dimension and subtle sounds. The Randy Edelman("Shanghai Noon", "Dragonheart") score sounds natural and clear, and dialogue is natural, as well. Not agressive, but gets the job done.
MENUS:: Some enjoyably done animation leads us through an image into the main menu where the selections appear. Animation also takes us into sub-menus that offer more selections.
Commentary: This is a commentary from director Jonathan Lynn. Lynn is not terribly energetic in his comments, but he does share a lot of interesting information on the production, starting off pointing out an idea that was one of many that Matthew Perry brought to the character. He also freely discribed the conditions and problems of shooting in Montreal. The film had only a limited budget and shooting schedule, so there are some things that had to be creatively done to keep the spending low.
He also frequently talks about the performances, pointing out how the actors livened up some of the dialogue and also, ideas and ad-libs that they came up with on shooting day. A couple of times during the track the director falls back to talking about the story, but he quickly comes back to a more structured talk. He also seemed a little nervous at the begining, as well. Although there are some pauses of silence now and then, the director seemed to warm up during the commentary, talking a little more as the film went further.
It's not one of the best commentaries I've heard lately, but I did enjoy hearing about some of the tales that happened during production, and Lynn's thoughts on the story in general. A track worth a listen to hear more about the behind-the-scenes. It would have been nice though if the director had been paired with one or more other people to chat back and forth with during the discussion.
Interview Gallery: Interviews with Bruce Willis, Matthew Perry, Michael Clarke Duncan, Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet and director Jonathan Lynn. All of the interviews are a couple of minutes in length and generally cover the bases - what attracted the stars to the project, what they thought of the film and what they did for the role. I thought Perry's interview offered some really funny bits on how he "taught" Bruce Wilis the skills of acting.
Theatrical Trailer: The film's theatrical trailer is included.
Cast/Crew List: A text list of the cast/crew.
Final Thoughts: I enjoyed "The Whole 9 Yards" quite a bit; it's not perfect, but I laughed a lot and enjoyed the performances. Warner's DVD offers fine audio and video quality, and a couple of entertaining supplemental features. Definitely worth a look. (Release Date: July 18, 2000).