Culture > Movies

Broken again

Movies | Take off on Ten Commandments only proves them right

Issue: "All's fair at the fair," Aug. 25, 2007

A film about how people break the Ten Commandments might be an interesting study of human nature. But The Ten as rancid comedy doesn't just show human sin, it revels in it (hence the R-rating for pervasive, strong crude sexual content including dialogue and nudity, language, and some drug material).

Even the silly opening sets the tone, a twist on Michelangelo's "Hand of God": Adam reaches out and pulls God's finger.

In 10 vignettes, the characters find new and creative ways to shatter the commandments. Side characters reappear as the main subject in a later story, a clever device in a decidedly grating and self-congratulatory movie.

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For "Thou Shalt Not Take the Name of the Lord Thy God in Vain," quiet librarian Gloria (Gretchen Mol) vacations in Mexico and has an affair with Jesus (Justin Theroux). Not just any old Jesus-the name is common in Latin America-but the actual Christ, who has been too lazy to bring about Armageddon since His second coming.

Dr. Richie (Ken Marino), murders his patients "as a goof," lands in prison, and becomes Big Buster's "wife." Prison rape in this telling is fertile with humor, so when fellow inmate Duane (Rob Corddry) lusts after Richie, he breaks the commandment against coveting another man's wife. You can almost hear writer-director David Wain boasting, "See? See? It's hilarious."

Let's be clear: This frightful film never pauses in its tiresome boundary-shoving, which is somehow supposed to be funny and cutting-edge. Ironically, it only succeeds in confirming one thing, that sinful people often delight in particularly twisted sin. As a lens on culture, though, The Ten is even more broken than the Ten Commandments.


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