STRANGER THINGS 2 (2017)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 7 hours 38 minutes

Directed by: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy, Andrew Stanton & Rebecca Thomas

Written by: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Justin Doble, Paul Dichter, Jessie Nickson-Lopez & Kate Trefry

Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalie Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Noah Schnapp, Joe Keery, Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin, Paul Reiser, Linnea Berthelsen & Brett Gelman

Over a year after STRANGER THINGS debuted as a massive Netflix hit and gained a dedicated fanbase, STRANGER THINGS 2 hit Netflix just in time for Halloween. While many Netflix subscribers binge-watched the entire second season over its opening weekend (myself included), I couldn’t help but feel that the series had gone through a noticeable decline in quality. STRANGER THINGS 2 brings back the characters that you know and love, but slow pacing and unbalanced storytelling really knocked this season-long sequel down a peg.

It’s been nearly a year since Will Buyers (Noah Schnapp) was rescued from a parallel dimension and he seems to be suffering from supernatural-related PTSD. Will’s trauma-fueled flashbacks might actually be current visions into “The Upside Down” and something very dangerous might be looking back at Will. Meanwhile, Will’s friends (Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin) begin a tepid friendship with new kid Maxine (Sadie Sink). Also, preteen psychic Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) is trying to find a way to get back to a depressed Mike (Finn Wolfhard), all while protective police chief Jim Hopper (David Harbour) keeps her under his watchful eye. And…this season also has interdimensional monsters and another tattooed psychic, but it takes a while to reach that point.

I want to make something clear, STRANGER THINGS 2 is fun. I like STRANGER THINGS 2. It’s a good season, but there are problems that cannot be ignored. This season’s flaws irked me enough to detract from my overall enjoyment of its nine episodes. One of the first problems arrives in the noticeably slower pacing. It seems like the viewer has to wait for a long while for anything of major consequence to occur within the first four episodes. A majority of the season’s first half is spent introducing/developing a couple of new characters, showing that Will has interdimensional PTSD, and delivering 80s nostalgia through the five (eventually, six) child characters. The GHOSTBUSTERS homage was funny and all, but what was really accomplished by showing that?

STRANGER THINGS 2’s off-again-on-again pacing and messy storytelling wouldn’t be so annoying, if the show didn’t try to distractingly shoehorn a few subplots in early on. The season’s very first scene involves a mysterious new character “Eight” (played by Linnea Berthelsen). Besides a useless opening prologue, Eight doesn’t return until the seventh episode(!) and this character didn’t have much of a purpose to serve at all in the grand scheme of the season’s story. Eight’s presence feels like arbitrary set-up for STRANGER THINGS 3.

To further harp on how dull and out-of-place Eight’s subplot was, she played a large(ish) role in Eleven’s storyline. Millie Bobby Brown’s performance is just as great as her work in the first season and she receives a bit more to do this time around. However, that damned seventh episode grinds things to a halt as a few episodes seem to forget about her presence altogether. It might have been better to intersperse her subplot alongside the craziness occurring at a nearby lab and Will’s increasingly alarming behavior. Instead, it felt like the writers and showrunners said “Oh shit! We have a ton of Eleven’s scenes and need some place to put them. Let’s just dump them all into the weakest episode of the season and grind all building momentum to a halt for an entire hour.” This was distractingly sloppy storytelling through and through.

For all of its messy pacing and distractingly uneven subplots, STRANGER THINGS 2 remains fun and entertaining. The storyline of Max joining the gang, the ever-present threat of her psycho older brother Billy (Dacre Montgomery), and a subplot about Dustin getting a secret otherworldly pet are fun to watch. One of the first season’s weakest points becomes this season’s biggest strength: the teenage drama between Natalia Dyer’s Nancy, Charlie Heaton’s Jonathan, and Joe Keery’s Steve.

As potential sparks fly between Nancy and Jonathan, Steve proves himself to be a better babysitter than a boyfriend (it helps that he’s adept with a spiked-bat against monstrous “Demogorgons”). I also thought it was extremely clever how the Duffer brothers took the inexplicable “Justice for Barb” movement that erupted in the wake of STRANGER THINGS and made that a crucial plot point during STRANGER THINGS 2. Brett Gelman also has a brief but hilarious role as a conspiracy theorist in this highly entertaining, intriguing storyline.

As far as STRANGER THINGS 2’s supernatural hijinks are concerned, the season has no problem in further fleshing out “The Upside Down” and its monstrous inhabitants. This season also has a big bad, though the finale’s “to be continued” final shot indicates that it will wind up possibly being a series’ big bad. The monsters are enjoyable to watch (there are multiple beasties in this season) and later episodes milk tense scenes for all that they’re worth. I won’t name names or spoil specific details, but this season’s most irksome character dies a painful death. It’s likely that this character will become Season 2’s equivalent of Barb. People will probably love this person and I’ll be just as baffled by the inexplicable fan following as I was for the briefly glimpsed Barb. Seriously, Barb was only in three episodes and barely a character. Why is she so special?

STRANGER THINGS 2 is fun, but suffers from an overall step down in quality. In some ways, this second season tries to be more ambitious than the first season (more monsters, Will is in a different kind of peril, and there’s the looming threat of a secret organization). However, this second season is too slow in its first half, has one annoying subplot that seems to be obvious set-up for STRANGER THINGS 3, and one episode that egregiously grinds everything to a halt for an hour. STRANGER THINGS was great and STRANGER THINGS 2 is only good. Though it references everything from GREMLINS to GHOSTBUSTERS to more King/Carpenter/Spielberg nods, STRANGER THINGS 2 seems to have unintentionally become the ultimate homage of disappointing (but still enjoyable) 80s sequels. I hope that STRANGER THINGS 3 pulls things back up to the quality of the stellar first season.

Grade: B

STRANGER THINGS (2016)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 6 hours 38 minutes

Directed by: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Shawn Levy,

Written by: Matt Duffer, Ross Duffer, Jessica Mecklenburg, Justin Doble, Alison Tatlock & Jessie Nickson-Lopez

Starring: Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Matthew Modine, Noah Schnapp & Joe Keery

It’s been out for over a year and I’ve finally gotten around to watching Netflix’s STRANGER THINGS, a homage-filled love letter to 80s horror and science-fiction. Created by identical twin brothers who really love Steven Spielberg, Stephen King, and John Carpenter, STRANGER THINGS is addicting entertainment from beginning to end. It’s safe to say that if you loved 2011’s 80s throwback SUPER 8, then you’ll probably love STRANGER THINGS too. This is like somebody threw FIRESTARTER, E.T., STAND BY ME, and other 80s horror/sci-fi creations into a blender and pureed them into a fine cinematic concoction!

The time is November 1983. After playing an intense game of D&D with his friends, 12-year-old Will Buyers (Noah Schnapp) disappears into thin air. This isn’t a simple kidnapping or abduction, because there were strange lights on the night that Will went missing and there also might be an unidentified creature on the loose. Meanwhile, a little girl with a shaved head, simply known as Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), shows up at a nearby diner and is being hunted by a very dangerous secret organization. Soon enough, Will’s concerned friends (Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, and Caleb McLaughlin) run into Eleven, Will’s frantic mother (Winona Ryder) experiences odd happenings in her home, and the depressed town police chief (David Harbour) finds himself caught up in a deadly conspiracy…and I haven’t even mentioned Barb (a fan favorite for some reason).

STRANGER THINGS’s first season has a lot going on within its fast-paced eight episodes. There are many subplots that weave themselves in and out of each other, connecting to a much bigger narrative. At first, it seems like this season contains lots of little mysteries, but these little mysteries make up one large sci-fi adventure. I found myself struggling to describe this season’s premise in one paragraph, because so much stuff happens in this show. There’s never a dull moment, even in the spots where the series slows down to develop its characters and builds itself up during the first episode.

It’s worth mentioning that STRANGER THINGS is astounding on a technical level. The cinematography looks phenomenal and the effects work is of the same quality that you typically see in summer blockbusters. The Duffer brothers clearly had careful eyes towards their creation and Netflix gave them the financial means to bring their 80s-centric vision to life. STRANGER THINGS also knocks it out of the park in its soundtrack, which consists of lots of great 80s tunes that never get distracting in a style-over-substance manner. Song selections are put into the background noise, hammer home the emotions of certain scenes (especially in the episode three’s emotional climax), and even make their way in as plot points. At any rate, STRANGER THING’s use of music is pretty damned ingenious.

Solid narratives that pay loving homage to 80s entertainment and great production values wouldn’t be nearly as effective without believable performances and well-developed characters inhabiting them. STRANGER THINGS delivers in its performances across the board. Finn Wolfhard is compelling as young leader Mike, while Gaten Matarazzo and Caleb McLaughlin serve as Will’s two other friends/sidekicks. Winona Ryder sells her role as a desperate mother who’s being driven to the edge by paranoia, coming off as a nutjob to anyone around her and yet actually experiencing pretty strange things. David Harbour plays Jim Hopper with a combination of biting sarcasm and a tragic backstory.

Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, and Shannon Purser make up a teenage subplot that is also connected to the strange supernatural happenings. Though this subplot threatens to become clichéd and is easily the weakest spot of an otherwise stellar season, it does have its charms and doesn’t necessarily do anything wrong. It’s just a bit too familiar and sticks out in a show that seems to have been made based off nostalgic love for other stories and movies. At any rate, Shannon Purser’s Barb has become a fan favorite for some reason. I don’t see why, but maybe I’m just not seeing the charm about this nervous, nerdy ginger who’s barely in the show.

STRANGER THING’s real show-stealer comes in young Millie Bobby Brown’s performance as Eleven (a.k.a. El). With only occasional lines of dialogue, Eleven somehow becomes the most fleshed out character of the entire season. We see flashbacks that give us ever-emerging details about her traumatic past. I felt sorry for El and, at the same time, rooted for her to kick some ass. When she lays down the supernatural smackdown on a few bullies and ultimately comes into her own as a strong young heroine, I was ecstatic. El was easily my favorite character of the entire show and she also reignited my hunger for Eggo waffles (you’ll understand when/if you watch the series).

STRANGER THINGS is pretty friggin’ great and lives up to its much-hyped reputation. This first season is filled with great effects, a rockin’ soundtrack, solid acting, and fast-paced storytelling that lovingly references loads of 80s horror/sci-fi. Though it might be a tad too homage heavy for some viewers, this very well could go down as one of Netflix’s best series. My only minor complaint comes from the angsty teenage subplot that seems to stick out in the midst of everything else, but I loved STRANGER THINGS through and through. If you haven’t watched this show yet and you’re a fan of horror/sci-fi, then jump on this immediately!

Grade: A

ALIEN: RESURRECTION (1997)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 49 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Strong Sci-Fi Violence and Gore, some Grotesque Images, and for Language

Directed by: Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Written by: Joss Whedon

Starring: Sigourney Weaver, Winona Ryder, Michael Wincott, Dan Hedaya, Brad Dourif, Raymond Cruz, Kim Flowers, Gary Dourdan, Ron Perlman, Dominique Pinon & Leland Orser

Five years after ALIEN 3, Fox proved to have not learned their lesson about unnecessary sequels and ALIEN: RESURRECTION hit theaters. Surely, this third sequel would jump-start a new chapter in the ALIEN franchise, right? After all, the main character of the first three films bit it in the last one and it seemed like a fitting (albeit plot hole filled and convoluted) way to go out. Well, Fox wanted Ripley back and hired Joss Whedon (15 years before directing THE AVENGERS) to write it. Surprisingly, Whedon’s screenplay combined with Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s stylish direction make for a tolerable and (at times) entertaining ride. I consider ALIEN: RESURRECTION to be a bit of a guilty pleasure and there was nowhere to go but up after the crappy third film.

Set 200 years after the events of ALIEN 3, RESURRECITON begins by showing us that scientists have somehow managed to clone Ripley (Sigourney Weaver). After surgically removing the cloned Queen Alien from inside her body, the scientists decide to keep the Ripley clone alive as a side project. It turns out that the Ripley clone’s genetics may have mixed with the Xenomorph DNA. This makes her into a superhero type (fast reflexes, super strength and acid blood). Her skills will come in handy after the vicious aliens break out of their cages on the ship. Aided by a rag-tag group of space-pirates, Ripley and the others must stop the alien-infested spaceship from reaching its final destination: Earth!

ALIEN: RESURRECTION tries to be big dumb fun and that’s something that the series has never really encountered before. The first film was scary, the second film was exciting, and the third film was bleak. This fourth film is just fun. Yes, it’s stupid as can be and not a good movie by any stretch of the imagination…but it’s also fun. There’s lots of humor, action, and “twists” to be had. I put that third quality in quotes, because ALIEN: RESURRECTION recycles pieces of what makes the first two movies so great. There’s one specific plot point that directly rips off a terrifying scene from the first film, though it’s done in a much more action-oriented way this time around.

Sigourney Weaver isn’t playing Ripley because she’s playing a Ripley clone. This allows for a bit of character building in her interactions with the scientists, genetic memories being restored, and an odd motherly connection with the Xenomorphs. The first two plot points are actually quite creative. You just need to jump over the hurdle of scientists cloning Ripley with the alien still inside her, but my theory is that the company likely snatched her DNA from the prison planet. The decision to turn Ripley into an alien/superhero hybrid is a tad too ridiculous. One of the film’s best scenes has Weaver’s Ripley burning ugly failed attempts of past clones. More of a focus should have gone into moments like that, instead of them being fast forgotten in favor of more superpowers and a parental connection to aliens.

As far as side characters go, ALIEN: RESURRECTION has a few notable faces that stick out. Brad Dourif is a blast to watch as the over-the-top creepy mad scientist. It seems like he was allowed to do his thing and there are goofy moments that feel improvised. Dan Hedaya gets a few good moments in as a corrupt spaceship commander, but is woefully underused. Out of the space pirates, the only two of note are Winona Ryder’s action heroine and Ron Perlman’s smart-ass thug. The rest of the pirates are generic one-note stereotypes, including a paraplegic who’s gifted with unbelievable strength during one of the film’s more absurd action moments.

ALIEN: RESURRECTION’s style and visuals raise the film above its by-the-numbers plot. The movie essentially boils down to people running from monsters and trying to blow up a spaceship (kinda like the first movie mixed with the second movie). The outrageous action scenes and highly detailed environments elevate the entertainment factor above the been-there-done-that premise. There’s lots of rust, slime, and blood. Most of it looks absolutely fantastic and lends a slick atmosphere to the proceedings. It certainly helps that the aliens appear especially bad-ass this time around. The suits used to bring them to life are convincing, while the CGI isn’t bad at all.

The film even introduces a new breed of alien to the mix, but this white-skinned monster is laughably stupid to behold. He’s not nearly as intimidating as the Xenomorphs and basically looks like an albino Pumpkinhead. I don’t know what Joss Whedon or Jean-Pierre Jeunet were thinking when they came up with this creation, but it’s rather lame. If they had introduced this monster early on, then there might have been a better story arc. As it stands, the less-threatening alien seems like an easy-to-beat final boss at the end of a video game. That being said, I love the way that Ripley dispatches him as it’s especially gory and crazy.

ALIEN: RESURRECTION is very silly and completely unnecessary in the grand scheme of the franchise. Still, it winds up as a middle-of-the-road experience because there is some fun to be had here. I enjoyed this film as a guilty pleasure when I was a teenager and still have fun watching it now. The fourth ALIEN installment isn’t anywhere near the quality of the first two films and I hesitate to call it good. This is like ALIEN fan fiction got made into a movie and it’s fun to watch in a really stupid way. Take that as you will.

Grade: C

EXPERIMENTER (2015)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 39 minutes

MPAA Rating: PG-13 for Thematic Material and brief Strong Language

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Directed by: Michael Almereyda

Written by: Michael Almereyda

Starring: Peter Sarsgaard, Winona Ryder, Edoardo Ballerini, Jim Gaffigan, Anthony Edwards, John Palladino, Ned Eisenberg, Anton Yelchin, John Leguizamo & Kellan Lutz

If you’ve ever taken a Psychology class, then you’ve likely heard or read something about Stanley Milgram’s obedience experiments. Uncovering a dark side of human nature and generating a massive amount of controversy, Milgram’s findings still bring strong emotions and ponder unanswerable questions to this day. Some people claim that the experiments were skewed and Milgram “forced” people into a potentially traumatizing situation, while others believe that the man was a genius searching to uncover and fix some of humanity’s inherent flaws. I’m very much on the latter side of the fence and have been anticipating this biopic since it first premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Currently available on VOD outlets and in select theaters, EXPERIMENTER doesn’t disappoint in being a thoroughly fascinating and odd approach to one of the most important figures of modern psychology.

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Stanley Milgram is a social psychologist who has undertaken an ambitious experiment. Over the course of one year, Milgram brings randomly selected volunteers into a teacher-student scenario in which they are instructed to give electric shocks to another person. What the participants don’t know is that the shocks aren’t really occurring and this whole scenario is an experiment on obedience to authority. Though Milgram expected some shocking results (no pun intended), he wasn’t prepared to find that a startling majority of volunteers willingly kept “shocking” the other participant (an actor in disguise). His research makes big waves in the intellectual community and Milgram becomes the subject of a whole lot of hatred. This movie moves through Milgram’s life including before, during, and after his controversial obedience experiments.

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EXPERIMENTER is told in a non-linear fashion. Though we technically move through points of Milgram’s life in a somewhat chronological order, the script frequently inserts the good doctor himself addressing the viewer. The frequent fourth-wall-breaking Milgram is played wonderfully by Peter Sarsgaard. Sarsgaard breathes life into a person who might appear to have sociopathic tendencies to some viewers and deeply humanizes him. Milgram’s understanding of societal norms both place him as an intellectual figure to be admired and a tragic professor for whom some form of unwanted ignorance might be welcomed bliss. Other characters (real people in Milgram’s life) enter and exit the film without much warning, but there is one constant counterpart to Sarsgaard’s Milgram. This comes in the form of Winona Ryder as his wife, Sasha Milgram. Though the Sarsgaard’s psychologist receives far more screen time than her character, Ryder makes the most of her role as someone who deeply cares for Milgram in spite of his flaws.

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Going back to the non-linear narrative, this was a fantastic approach to this story. Not only is a solid chunk of the film dedicated to Milgram performing the obedience experiments and the messy consequences that followed, but we also see other social experiments that he performed throughout his career. Unlike the notorious study he’s become well-known for, these other experiments are much more light-hearted and have a certain humorous feel to them. I was both being entertained and educated by this film to a point where I will now try to pick up on little social queues and body language of strangers around me on a daily basis. A simple study about a “familiar stranger” on a train is pretty fascinating stuff.

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As informative and brilliant as most of this film is, EXPERIMENTER does get a bit too pretentious for its own good (sort of like Milgram himself). We see Sarsgaard walking down a hallway with an elephant following behind him, probably signifying the weight that all of these experiments are taking on him. We also see an introduction to some friends filmed in black-and-white to signify obvious banality of this trip. These artsy scenes were done with good intentions, but border on becoming a tad over-the-top. Still, there are distinct moments where Milgram unwittingly demonstrates the authority that he’s fighting so hard to analyze. These bits are pretty funny, especially seeing as they reveal Milgram is very much the same sort of animal as the rest of us.

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All in all, EXPERIMENTER is a highly fascinating biopic that goes through the life of a man who became known for one hugely controversial study. This film remains true to the life of the renowned psychologist and is aided by a stellar performance from Peter Sarsgaard. Though it can get a little bogged down in its own funk during a couple of brief artsy scenes, EXPERIMENTER is simultaneously entertaining and educational. If you’re remotely interested in the subject matter, then you’re likely to be very happy with this film. I imagine that many future high school and college Psychology classes will be implementing EXPERIMENTER as required viewing.

Grade: A-

THE TEN (2007)

Review by Derrick Carter

Running Time: 1 hour 36 minutes

MPAA Rating: R for Pervasive Strong Crude Sexual Content including Dialogue and Nudity, and for Language and some Drug Material

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Directed by: David Wain

Written by: David Wain & Ken Marino

Starring: Paul Rudd, Adam Brody, Winona Ryder, Gretchen Mol, Ken Marino, Oliver Platt, Liev Schreiber, Rob Corddry, Michael Ziegfeld & Jessica Alba

THE TEN flaunts a potentially fun concept. The writer/director of WET HOT AMERICAN SUMMER and ROLE MODELS crafts an anthology centered around 10 comedic tales that cover the ten commandments. That sounds like a blast. David Wain is known for his weird and totally random sense of humor. His oddball jokes helped fuel a cult following in SUMMER and also supported a hilarious season of the Comedy Central’s bizarre short-lived STELLA. Unfortunately, David Wain isn’t at the top of his game in this messy anthology. THE TEN has some enjoyable segments, but succumbs to downright unfunny and lame skits that feel way too desperate. Paul Rudd serves as a narrator introducing each new commandment and his wooden delivery doesn’t do any favors to the film either. I’ll keep my descriptions of the segments/commandments vague (as some a couple of them last for two minutes tops), but will dive into my criticisms or praise to be found in each.

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THOU SHALT NOT WORSHIP NO GOD BEFORE ME: After falling out of an airplane, a man becomes an unexpected celebrity and this newfound fame consumes him. This short plays out like a joke with no punchline. Though there are two brief chuckles, the best I can say about this segment is that it’s very brief (five minutes). The first commandment feels like a throwaway joke that was stretched on for five minutes. D

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THOU SHALT NOT TAKE THE LORD’S NAME IN VAIN: A virginal librarian has a fling with a mysterious man in Mexico that produces an unexpected revelation. This short had some potential in its execution, but mostly plays out like a one-note joke. Again, it made me chuckle a couple of times, but that’s about all the reaction it got out of me. This is slightly worse than first segment, which doesn’t exactly kick off the comedic anthology on a strong note. D-

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THOU SHALT NOT MURDER: A doctor pulls a prank that has deadly consequences for his patient and dire ones for himself. This segment felt like a decent College Humor skit made its way into this film. I was amused, even if the laughs ranged on moronic. The short also sets up characters in two of the better segments down the line. B-

HONOR THY MOTHER AND THY FATHER: Two black children demand to know the identity of their biological father and their white mother goes to extreme lengths to give them the answer. This segment felt so awkward, stupid, and bad that it just stuck out like a sore thumb as easily the worst of the 10 shorts here. F

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THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S GOODS: A pompous asshole (played wonderfully by Liev Schreiber) competes with his neighbor after an impromptu CAT scan machine purchase. The situation spirals out of control. I was cracking up during multiple parts of this segment and wish that the rest of the commandments were as entertaining. Easily the best tale of the bunch. A-

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THOU SHALT NOT COVET THY NEIGHBOR’S WIFE: The doctor from the third segment finds himself in prison. He’s cell mates with an abusive rapist but falls in love another prisoner (Rob Corddry). Though I can see most folks not enjoying this segment, Rob Corddry usually brings up the quality of any project he’s in. The dead-pan seriousness that this “romance” plays out in is also quite funny. B-

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THOU SHALT NOT STEAL: The seventh commandment is very hit or miss. A woman (introduced in the first segment) falls in love with a ventriloquist dummy. The serious execution of this unconventional romance bring most of the successful jokes, but there are almost an equal number of misses. The sheer stupidity of the tale will turn people off, but I enjoyed it as a bit of a guilty pleasure. C+

THOU SHALT NOT BEAR FALSE WITNESS: A heroin addict asks about the origin of a special brand of heroin. This leads into an impromptu piece of animation that aims for shock value and forgets any laughs to be had. This really felt like the turning point in which the movie (which already wasn’t great by any means) decided to throw everything at the wall and see what stuck. Unfortunately, nothing stuck at all. F

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THOU SHALT NOT COMMIT ADULTERY: Paul Rudd, already acting as a lifeless narrator in the wraparound, gets him time to shine here and the writing doesn’t do him any favors. Rudd would go on to be hilarious in later efforts (he’s arguably the funniest part of KNOCKED UP), but there’s no effort put into this brief segment from either Rudd or Wain. F

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REMEMBER THE SABBATH AND KEEP IT HOLY: The tenth commandment centers a man who would rather be naked at home on a Sunday than at church with his family. His newfound nudity gains popularity among his friends. Though this final segment may have gotten a brief chuckle out of me, it feels like this was a potentially funny joke that might have made for a small scene in a narrative feature, but gets stretched out to an excruciatingly long 10 minutes. It’s an ever so slight improvement above the last two tales, but sends the overall jumbled anthology out on a sour note. D-

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THE TEN has a cool premise, but doesn’t fully utilize it. The only commandment that I out-and-out loved was “Coveting Thy Neighbor’s Goods” as the dark sense of humor and Schreiber delivered solid laughs. There are also three that range between are okay (Shalt Not Murder, Covet Thy Neighbor’s Wife, and Shalt Not Steal). The rest of the stories feel like a simple jokes stretched to their unfunny breaking points or phoned in attempts at shock value. In the end, I can’t recommend THE TEN. I’m sure somebody’s already said this before, but Thou Shalt Not See This Movie!

Grade: D+

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