Adam Brody, Rob Corddry, Famke Janssen, Ron Silver, Jason Sudeikis, Gretchen Mol, Oliver Platt, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Liev Schreiber,and Jessica Alba.

There must have been something pretty attractive about The Ten (on DVD January 15) to attract this level of talent. Now that it’s all said and done, I’m still trying to figure out what it is.

Written and directed by two alumni of the sketch comedy group The State, The Ten is a modern examination of The Ten Commandments. It’s not so much a film as a series of comedy sketches performed by a rotating and sometimes interceding cast of characters.

Paul Rudd plays Jeff Reigert. An everyday guy, he’s supposed to be guiding us through these stories. But between his wife, his mistress and Diane Wiest, he can barely get two sentences out with breaking a commandment or two himself.

That’s about as much narrative as you’re going to get in this picture and the random inclusion of Diane Wiest should give a clue as to the completely unpredictable nature of this comedy.

The film is fairly elliptical about how it addresses the commandments. In some cases, those who break them end up having things work out for them just fine! It’s not so much a morality tale, but more of an attempt to let the air out of a serious subject. Watching the film, I kept thinking about Monty Python’s The Life of Brian. The Ten is just as random, just as offensive and just as odd but it’s not the kind of movie whose sense of humor all audiences will appreciate.

I mean, once you have Winona Ryder having vigorous sex with a ventriloquist’s puppet, pretty much all bets are off.

I think there is a lot to like in The Ten, but in small doses. I would have hoped that the film could have gotten out of it’s own way at times and maybe found a way to interweave the narrative between stories a little more. Near the end of the film, things start to gel . But from a distance, the film feels like little more than a series of sketches that would have played much better on TV.

Then again, the film never takes itself that seriously. So maybe neither should we.

This is a great film to have on DVD, a fun afternoon rental if you don’t mind disconnected humor. Give it a shot if you’re willing to try something different. It may end up growing on you. But audiences expecting traditional setups and punchlines should look elsewhere.

↓ Transcript
Theater Hopper reviews The Ten.