The Whole Nine Yards review

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Courteney Cox-Arquette has the Scream trilogy. Lisa Kudrow has The Opposite Of Sex, Analyze This and Hanging Up. Matthew Perry has... Fools Rush In. Given this, ahem, illustrious track record, it wasn't surprising that the Friends star was desperate for a cinematic hit. And The Whole Nine Yards certainly delivered, making it to number one at the box office in the States. Looking at the film itself, though, it's hard to see why.

It should have been easy. Find a character for Perry who's reasonably Chandler-like. Add Bruce Willis as a smooth-talking, easygoing hitman; Michael Clarke Duncan for Perry to bounce off (literally, on one occasion); and some lovely ladies, including Species babe Natasha Henstridge. Then sit back and wait for the laughs. But they forgot to write a decent script, ending up instead with a mix of half-arsed pratfalls and lame-brained contract killer patter.

It would help if we cared about these people, but Perry's Chandler-lite act is more annoying than endearing and while Willis slips easily into laidback Moonlighting mode, it looks like he's just enjoying a fun day out rather than actually acting. Even worse than the leads are Rosanna Arquette and Kevin Pollak, mangling their lines through two of the worst on-screen accents ever heard. While Arquette sounds like every school kid's French-class nightmare, Pollack settles for a dodgy impression of Chekov from Star Trek.

The only saving graces are Amanda Peet and Clarke Duncan. Playing Oz's dental assistant with hidden depths, Peet is offbeat and loveable without being annoying, while Clarke Duncan's jovial man-mountain balances charisma and menace to perfection.

Over the end credits, a band is seen playing the Gershwin classic They All Laughed. "They" sure as hell weren't in the audience for this misfiring hitman comedy.

Lazily scripted and acted, The Whole Nine Yards is only saved from one-star territory thanks to quality supporting turns from Peet and Clarke Duncan. Quite how it went anywhere near the number-one spot in the US is anyone's guess...

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