A compilation of ridiculous shorts based on the Ten Commandments, David Wain and Ken Marino’s The Ten is as tonally divergent as possible from Krzysztof Kieślowski’s The Decalogue. Look a little closer, however, and the two works share a couple of surprising parallels, predominantly a belief in the bibilical commandments as bedrocks of human experience, as well as in their interconnected relationship to one another. Tied together by Paul Rudd—who, from a black soundstage adorned with giant CG tablets, acts as host while also starring in a tale of adultery—the film dishes out a more profane variant of the humor peddled by The State, Wain and Marino’s early-‘90s comedy troupe whose 18 members are reunited here along with a gaggle of notable screen actors. Director Wain links his segments via recurring characters and running motifs (including a tiresome infatuation with anal sex), thereby lending the proceedings a cohesive atmosphere of random absurdity. Despite fluctuations in quality, the vignettes offer at least one solid laugh apiece, with the most gleefully cheeky riffs being those for “Thou shall have no other Gods before me” (in which Adam Brody, stuck in the ground due to a skydiving accident, becomes an overnight celeb phenomenon) and “Thou shall not take the Lord’s name in vain” (featuring Gretchen Mol’s virgin librarian finding carnal delight on a Mexico vacation with Justin Theroux’s hunky, long-haired Jesus Christ). The Ten is, I guess, sacrilegious in the strictest sense of the term, and its interest in investigating the commandments can be skin deep, as they’re often used as mere pretext for ribald nonsense such as a sketch built around Ken Marino’s surgeon repeatedly explaining that his decision to leave a scalpel inside a patient—a move that led to the woman’s death—was “just a goof.” A general lack of seriousness, however, doesn’t preclude faithful adherence to the commandments’ guiding principles, and is, in fact, precisely what energizes the film’s anything-goes wit, of which the centerpiece is a sly bit of casting: shoplifter extraordinaire Winona Ryder in “Thou shall not steal.”
- 95 min
- David Wain
- Ken Marino, David Wain
- Paul Rudd, Jessica Alba, Adam Brody, Bobby Cannavale, Famke Janssen, Justin Theroux, Gretchen Mol, Rob Corddry, Kerri Kenney, Winona Ryder, A.D. Miles, Live Schreiber, Oliver Platt, Ken Marino, Joe Lo Truglio, Ron Silver
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