The Ten is a collection of 10 short, mildly overlapping films, each loosely based on one of the Ten Commandments. Directed and co-written by David Wain (The State), The Ten is a comedy. But, truthfully, I didn’t really laugh that much, or even particularly like, the first three or four of the films. They were silly and sophomoric (a man [Adam Brody] falls out of an airplane and must live his life partially buried in the ground; a sexless librarian [Gretchen Mol] travels to Mexico and has a passionate fling with Jesus, a carpenter; a physician [Ken Marino, who co-wrote The Ten] leaves surgical scissors in a patient “as a goof”). I smiled occasionally, but I was getting more than a little antsy in my seat.
And then, finally, one of the films really got to me. In that one, a prisoner (the surgeon from the “goof” sketch, now the “bitch” of his gruff cellmate) finds common ground with a new inmate (Rob Corddry). Hmm, how can I explain, tastefully, what happens next? I can’t possibly do any better than Entertainment Weekly‘s Owen Gleiberman:
The two flirt like schoolgirls, discussing their shared love of sushi, until the new dude confesses that he wishes he were the one doing the violating, ”without your consent.” Our hero, with a sweet smile, then says, ”That’s what makes it rape, right?” At which point the new butch beau replies, ”That’s what makes it rape!”
And, yes, that film’s tied to the commandment against coveting your (thy?) neighbor’s wife. The two prisoners go from zero to 60, from ‘schoolgirl’ crush to prison rape, in about four seconds. That sounds like it’d be in bad taste, I know, but—somehow or other—it’s all done too preposterously to be offensive. I laughed, and everyone else in the theater laughed, too. Dang it, it was funny.
After that, The Ten had me. I couldn’t stop laughing at Winona Ryder, who, naturally, stars in the piece about stealing. And by the time that A.D. Miles was ditching church to hang out naked with his straight, guy friends and listen to Roberta Flack records (keep the Sabbath holy, don’t you know), well, I was pretty much sold.
The Ten won’t change your life, but you’ll enjoy yourself. Just be willing to surrender to it after the first half hour or so.
The Ten gets two-and-a-half stars.