Paul Rudd is the Rod Serling of ridiculous satire. This is maybe less The Twilight Zone and more a comedic version of Night Gallery. Instead of terror, Rudd seeks to invoke humor, and perhaps some lessons in life.
THE TEN is a series of 10 short films of varying length but none longer than 10 minutes, some a bit shorter. Each deals with one aspect of the Decalogue, the stone tablet mentioned in the Bible, which was received by Moses. I suppose Rudd in this case is Moses, but the idea of that is too funny to even comprehend.
Of course, there is some disagreements in the Exodus and the book of Deuteronomy as to how the list should be read, but from "Thou Shalt Not Steal," to "Thou Shalt Not Take the Lord's Name in Vain," writer Ken Marino and director David Wain explore each of the Ten Commandments in hilarious fashion.
In fact, Marino himself appears in four of the short films. He plays a doctor who likes to goof, and as you watch these shorts, you can't help but feel like this whole thing is one big goof. Certainly many of the shorts are goofy in nature, from a man who jumps from an airplane with no parachute to a woman who falls in love with a ventriloquist dummy.
Some are meant simply to make you laugh. Others seem to have a general purpose. The rest merely meander, and have you scratching your head.
On the DVD commentary, Wain's parents talk about how those meandering scenes are just not funny. Now, the fact that the director's parents bash the movie on the DVD is funny in and of itself. Wain also notes that during festivals, a lot of people walked out. How many directors admit to that about their own movies?
Paul Rudd is a great comedian who carries these 10 tales, one of which includes him, but really it's only four of the 10 that are worth the journey. The other six are too confusing or too over-the-top.
Most of them feel like Saturday Night Live sketches that are drawn out past the point of absurdity, or else taken too seriously. Honestly, it's hit or miss. I think the four shorts, which are all in the first hour are compelling enough. The performances are earnest; so it's good points, even though they're fewer, outweigh the more negative.
The DVD may also be the first, at least the first I've ever seen, to have a jazz player score the audio commentaries.
Four Stars out of Five
Rated R for nudity, sexual content and language
Running Time: 1 hr. and 33 mins.