The Ten is an interesting film. Not the most promising way to start out a review, but when a comedy from David Wain comes along (Wet Hot American Summer and Comedy Central’s Stella), “interesting” is one of the main words you use to describe the project. Along with “hilarious”, “strange” and “stupid.” Even with this strange mix of responses to The Ten, you can’t help but laugh at the strange stories contained in it—but perhaps it’s all Paul Rudd’s doing, because that man is just hilarious.
In The Ten Jeff Reigert (Paul Rudd) takes us, the viewer, on ten tales, each one of which breaks one of the ten commandments. Quite a few of the stories repeat characters from one another or revisit them later down the road, while others (particularly the one with Kerri Kenney and Oliver Platt) seem completely random. With such an eclectic group in the mix, including Adam Brody, Rob Corddry, Famke Janssen, Kerri Kenney-Silver, Ken Marino, Gretchen Mol, Oliver Platt, Paul Rudd, Winona Ryder, Liev Schrieber and Jessica Alba, it’s hard not to laugh at least once during the film—although I laughed many more times than that.
Regardless of the cast, the type of comedy that Wain rights is an acquired taste. His humor is either incredibly subtle or so in-your-face that you find it ridiculously stupid. I found while watching Stella I thought the first episode was stupid but once I got what the humor in the show was trying to do I easily fell into its grip—though I was apparently one of the few, as no one else seemed to watch the show. The Ten does exceed in places but also stumbles in others, which can impact the film greater than the most hilarious joke in the world. The budget was the films biggest issue to overcome—ten different stories means a slew of different characters and the film was overly ambitious at times with its special effects, which caused some incredibly cheesy green screen work to be done.
What did work in the film were when our characters reappeared in later commandment breakings, in the case of Gretchen Mol and Ken Marino. Paul Rudd was throughout and even played a part in one of the commandments himself and his interactions with Famke Janssen were downright hilarious. Alba is hardly even in the film and most of her scenes were already shown in the trailer, which is also one of the films biggest downfalls. Like most comedies, a lot of the funniest bits in the film were shown in the trailer and to this day I think I laugh more at the trailer than I did at the film (the pronunciation of everyone’s names in the trailer makes me laugh just thinking about it).
Even with its hits and misses, The Ten remains an entertaining affair. It’s nothing that will go down in comedy history (though with such a huge cast, you’d think it would) and will likely only garner home video sales and rental revenue from the names the cover sport. Quite a bit of the films humor is irreverent and stupid, but if you know that going in, you’ll be less shocked by the final product. It’s nothing remarkable, but it’s still a damn good time. Recommended.
Arriving in a clear DVD case with art, inserts and disc art that made me swear I was sent a bootleg of some sort, The Ten makes a really strange first impression with its packaging. While clear amaray cases and double sided inserts are nothing new, and really something I often welcome, the inclusion of it on this release just seems odd. On top of that the aforementioned disc art is just incredibly cheesy looking for some reason and the whole affair looks incredibly amateurish. The entire rear cover description is actually a reviewer quote, something I’ve never seen before. At least Pete Hammond isn’t quoted. I’m really tired of seeing that guy’s name everywhere.
Menus are a bit better, but the accompanying video transfer is really quite horrendous. There’s a ton of compression throughout and worst of all is an interlaced transfer. It’s anamorphic at least, but it’s really quite ugly to look at. The accompanying 5.1mix is mostly front focused and while the rear cover advertises a DTS track (it has a logo for it at least), there is nothing here. There are no other audio options on the film and it really is quite the odd release, with Spanish subtitles accompanying. I’ve never heard of City Lights Media until this film, so I’ve no doubt they’re still up and coming…but they could stand to get a few more professionals artists on their staff.
A commentary with David Wain, Ken Marino and Paul Rudd is provided and it is just awesome. Listening to those guys for an hour and a half is almost as good as watching the film itself (many will say the films not worth watching, but they’re just party poopers). They talk about the production of the film as well as the troubles, but Rudd also manages to crack jokes every few minutes along the way. It’s a really lighthearted and great commentary track.
Moving onto the other extras we have over fifty five minutes of deleted scenes. Normally this is great, as a lot of the cut scenes are obviously improv of some sort, but there’s no play all option here, which is incredibly annoying. Going back to the menu every minute to select a new scene gets old and tiring. I feel like I’m going back in time with this DVD in terms of menu navigation and technical transfer.
An interview with David Wain, Paul Rudd and Ken Marino is included and is a short capsule of information for the film. Not much new stuff is learned here, but, like the commentary with the trio, is fun to watch regardless. An episode of David Wain’s “Wainy Days” is also included and has an appearance from Elizabeth Banks, of 40 Year Old Virgin and Spider-Man fame.
A “Making of” featurette, with plenty of cast and crew interviews, wraps up the extras viewable on your DVD player; ringtones and wallpapers are downloadable via a link on the disc. I assume they are anyway, all the link is an HTML file that you click on and takes you to a link with the content, which, as of this writing, isn’t online yet. Granted I’m writing this about four weeks before it even streets, but still…be nice to see what kind of goodies they made.
Whether or not you want to buy this DVD is really dependant on your enjoyment of the film. The film was already difficult enough to recommend to the right audience and the DVDs production values and transfer quality is really just a real disappointment. Once again, I realize the budget was pretty low for this, but still—this type of poor DVD should have stopped being produced five or six years ago. I’d hate to see what they’d do with an HD DVD or Blu Ray release.
As much as I want to recommend the DVD along with the film, this one is too much of a mixed bag. I really enjoyed the film, but the DVD was a disappointment on more than a few levels. With that, give this one a Rental first and if you liked the film as much as I did, then be sure to pick it up once it drops to the used bin at Blockbuster.
The Ten arrives on DVD on January 15th.