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Movie Review: "The Ten"

I needed, as I'm sure most of you did, some comic relief after the depressing ballgames of the last two days.

So, with nearly two more days to go until the next game on Tuesday night against the Reds, I decided to take in "The Ten" last night, a movie loosely -- and I mean very loosely -- based on the Ten Commandments.

It's also based loosely on a 1989 Polish TV series titled "Dekalog", which was a more serious attempt to do what director David Wain ("Reno 911!") does with humor in "The Ten".

It's "hosted" by Jeff (Paul Rudd, who was in "Reno 911!" and "Anchorman", among other silly comedies), who stands in front of stone replicas of the Ten Commandments and introduces each short vignette, even while going through some personal troubles that somehow become related to each of the stories.

I won't ruin these stories for you; suffice to say that some work better than others. Among the things involved in these short stories (and although they seem at first to be unrelated, the characters wander in and out of each other's plots, a device which at first is distracting and then becomes downright funny) are some giant CAT-scan machines, a skydiving airplane and racial stereotypes. There's a pretty good sendup of celebrity worship, and some slaps at both the legal and medical professions.

Oh, and a ventriloquist's dummy, of which I won't say any more except that it is involved in both the funniest and most poignant of the vignettes.

There's a sort of B-team All-Star cast here: Jessica Alba, Gretchen Mol (who becomes involved in scenes with Jesus Christ), Ron Silver (hilarious as a booking agent), Famke Janssen, and Winona Ryder, who appears in more of the scenes than anyone else, and -- well, falls in love multiple times, that's all I'll say.

If you're a religious person, you might not want to see this film because saying it's "irreverent" is putting it mildly. Go in with a wicked sense of humor and a willingness to set some of your beliefs aside, and you'll have a fun ninety-three minutes (although I could have done without the ending, which seemed pointless). Think "Monty Python Meets The Ten Commandments".

Incidentally, I forgot to mention during the last homestand that actor Matthew Broderick, who spent some time shooting scenes at Wrigley Field twenty years ago for the classic "Ferris Bueller's Day Off", returned to the ballpark during the Phillies series, standing right below us outside Gate K shooting scenes from a movie tentatively titled "Diminished Capacity", scheduled to be released next year. It also stars Chicago-area native Virginia Madsen, Alan Alda, and just to keep this sort-of-on-topic, Bobby Cannavale, who appeared in "The Ten". The IMDB link above for "Diminished Capacity" gives the following synopsis:

A man (Broderick) suffering from memory takes a trip to a memorabilia expo with his Alzheimer's-impaired relative (Alda) and his high school flame (Madsen), where the trio plans to finalized their scheme to sell a rare baseball card.

OK, sure, whatever you say, especially since the syntax in that quote isn't quite right ("suffering from memory"? "plans to finalized"?). Anyway, I happened to drive by the ballpark one day last week when the Cubs were out of town and the PA was on and there were people in the bleachers, and I think they were shooting more scenes for this film on that day as well.

Anyway, I enjoyed "The Ten" -- not the greatest movie ever made, but some good laughs on a day I really needed them.