Starring: Matthew Perry, Bruce Willis, Rosanna Arquette
Director: Jonathan Lynn
Running Time: 98 mins
The Whole Nine Yards is an American film about a man who discovers his new neighbour is a recently-released mobster, which leads him into a violent rabbit hole that brings international criminals and more right onto his doorstep.
While not exactly a belter of black comedy, The Whole Nine Yards has its moments, and wins with a collection of likable, charismatic performances. A fun premise that blends romantic comedy with mob-based humour, there are a good few laughs here, although the movie does occasionally get side-tracked with secondary storylines that aren’t quite as gripping as it thinks.
Let’s start with the positives, namely the performances. In the lead role, Matthew Perry is perfectly lovable as an almost bumbling everyman who gets in over his head with attempts to remove a mobster from the house next door. Supporting players including Rosanna Arquette, Amanda Peet and Michael Clarke Duncan also add to the fun, but the stand-out is Bruce Willis, who blends impressive charisma with an icy vibe as he portrays a rather entertaining anti-hero.
The performances go a long way to bringing energy and style to a screenplay that isn’t always operating to its highest potential. There are a couple of good jokes here and there, but this is first and foremost a black comedy which aims to use the dark absurdity of its storylines to make you laugh.
In some cases, that works. Rosanna Arquette and Amanda Peet’s roles in the film offer up some of the biggest laughs as their relationship with Matthew Perry is brought into disrepute time and time again, while the overarching story of Perry going up against the mob strikes up a few chuckles too.
On the flipside, the film gets a little overindulgent with a romantic side story between Matthew Perry and co-star Natasha Henstridge. While it links into his character’s complicated bond with Bruce Willis, that romantic plot offers relatively little dramatic intrigue of comedy to prove its worth, and frustratingly becomes more and more central as the film goes on.
That’s ultimately the downfall of a film that, while not exactly perfect, certainly has its charms and its moments. With good performances, there’s a bunch of charisma in The Whole Nine Yards, although its focus on some less-than-stellar side plots is a frustration. So, that’s why I’m giving the film a 7.1 overall.