The Whole Nine Yards
A charming comedy has come along to break the monotony of winter, and if you hurry you can claim to have spotted the next Julia Roberts hidden half a dozen names down in the cast list, though she actually is the female lead. Who is she? She is Amanda Peet, this is her first major role in a feature, and she is so utterly delicious that you will fall madly in love with her. But I get ahead of myself.
"The Whole Nine Yards" tells us what happens when a notorious contract killer -- Jimmy The Tulip Tudeski, now known as just plain Jimmy Jones, having served his time in prison and moved from Chicago to the safer environs of Canada -- moves in next door to a henpecked dentist in suburban Montreal. Jimmy is played by Bruce Willis, with his easy charm and perfect comic timing; the dentist, Nick 'Oz' Oseransky, is played by Matthew Perry, who here shows a lovely gift for knockabout physical comedy. Oz's wife, in incredible French-Canadian drag, is Rosanna Arquette, as over the top as it is possible to imagine, cheesy blonde wig and all.
So where is Amanda Peet? Look for her first as Oz's dental office receptionist, and follow her as she becomes more involved in the various plots and counterplots that fill the movie, of which there are more than enough to go around, mainly centering on Jimmy's old boss's desire to find him and kill him, and Oz's wife's desire for -- well, let's let that one go.
Although the film wanders a bit toward the end, it has more than enough wit, along with beautifully timed comic setups and payoffs, to carry us happily through. Peet and Willis have great chemistry on screen; actually, Peet and everybody have great chemistry on screen. She has that self-aware charm of Julia Roberts, along with a great belly laugh and a thousand-watt smile, and she can deliver a punchline with the very best of them.
The film was written by Mitchell Kapner and directed by Jonathan Lynn, whose previous work includes the underrated "My Cousin Vinny." Light up the dark days of winter with the best comedy in ages.