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Film / The Whole Nine Yards

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The Whole Nine Yards is a 2000 Mafia comedy, directed by Jonathan Lynn and starring Matthew Perry and Bruce Willis, as well as Natasha Henstridge, Amanda Peet, Kevin Pollak, Michael Clarke Duncan, and Rosanna Arquette.

Nicolas "Oz" Oseransky (Perry) is a dentist in Montreal who is hopelessly in debt thanks to his late father-in-law's criminal deeds, and his marriage is miserable with him and his wife (Arquette) openly hating each other. Oz meets their new neighbor and recognizes a distinctive tattoo on his arm; he's Jimmy "The Tulip" Tudeski (Willis), a hitman hiding out from the mob after squealing on Lazlo Gogolák, the head of the Gogolák crime family. Oz's wife convinces him to meet the Gogoláks and sell out Jimmy for a payday big enough to pay off his debts and end their marriage.

In Chicago, Oz meets Janni Gogolák (Pollak) and Jimmy's estranged wife Cynthia (Henstridge). Both are very interested in finding Jimmy, and Cynthia secretly meets with Oz to explain that there's more to Jimmy's capture than revenge for squealing. As a "wedding present" to the two, and to hide the money from the feds at the time, Lazlo Gogolák gave them a trust worth ten million dollars, which can only be withdrawn if Jimmy, Cynthia, and Janni all sign for it, in which case they'd split it. In lieu of a signature from a living person, though, a death certificate will suffice, and if so happened that only one of them signed for the money and had death certificates for the other two, they'd get all the cash for themselves, "the whole nine yards". Lazlo wants Jimmy and Cynthia dead to get his hands on the money, and if Lazlo ends up dead Cynthia believes Jimmy will kill her for the same.

Thus Oz finds himself pulled headfirst into the mafia world of assassinations, double-crosses, sex, love, and money. Hilarity Ensues.

The film received a sequel, The Whole Ten Yards, in 2004, where Oz and Jimmy have to deal with Lazlo Gogolák (also played by Pollak) after he's freed from prison and comes looking for revenge.

The Whole Nine Yards provide examples of:

  • Affably Evil:
    • Franky Figgs and Jimmy.
    • Jill crosses the line into "bubblingly evil" — she's wanted to be a hitman since she was a kid, idolizing Franky and Jimmy, confessing her acceptance on the contract on Oz with no shame whatsoever, and gleefully (even flirtatiously) participating in the murders the night Janni comes for Jimmy. She is unceasingly upbeat and friendly the whole time.
  • Ascended Fangirl: Jimmy offers Jill her first kill — Janni Gogolak and his Mooks.
  • As Long as It Sounds Foreign: Exaggerated by Kevin Pollak as Janni Gogolak to great comedic effect; includes unconventional contractions, randomly emphasized letters, and swapped consonants. Makes even less sense after the sequel reveals that he grew up in the States.
    Janni: Don't b'long.
    Oz: Don't blong?
    Janni: Don't be long.
  • Berserk Button: Jimmy has two — putting mayonnaise on a burger (which Oz also hates, but not to the same degree) and adultery. Who knew? Three: he hates fathers that are rude to or in front of their children.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Jill is a rare case of one not being treated as an antagonist in any way. After all, her original motive was to pose as Oz's assistant in order to kill him. However, he turned out to be so likable that she found she couldn't go through with it — especially for someone as unpleasant as Oz's wife.
  • Bloodless Carnage: Oddly enough, several people are shot in this film but don't bleed.
  • Boy Meets Girl: A very atypical version for Oz and Cynthia.
  • The Bro Code: Jimmy is furious when he learns Oz slept with his wife. In the end, though, he forgives him, because Oz is just that likeable.
  • Calling Card: The reason for Jimmy's nickname is his penchant to leave a tulip on his targets' bodies.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In Jill's first scene, she's seen having an intense whispered conversation into a phone. Nothing comes of it for 40+ minutes, until we find out that this was where she told Oz's wife that she wasn't going through with the hit on Oz.
    • The first patient we see Oz with turns out to be important to Oz's plan to save Cynthia.
  • Chekhov's Skill: It turns out that Oz's job is more useful than for making jokes about dentists being suicidal — the only way to wipe his debt clean with both the mobsters and Jimmy is to replace the dead cop's dental records with a copy of Jimmy's and burn all the bodies.
  • Deadpan Snarker: When he's not being spastic, Oz is pretty deadpan. Then again, what else would you expect from Matthew Perry?
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: Given Oz's straitlaced nature towards the topic, it isn't hard for Jill to figure out.
    Jill: So, did you do it? Did you do what I told you to do?
    Oz: No, no. I'm not gonna answer that!
    Jill: So you did?! I can tell. You had sex!
  • Disproportionate Retribution:
    • Things get ugly when Jimmy tells the chef he doesn't want mayonnaise on his burger.
      Jimmy: I'm gonna send this back and ask for another one, but if you put mayonnaise on it I'm gonna come to your house, chop your legs off, set your house on fire, and watch as you drag your bloody stumps through the door.
    • The threat (minus the burger part) is actually word-for-word from a message Bruce Willis left for Matthew Perry. Due to a slight miscommunication, Bruce was under the impression that Matthew Perry was dragging his feet signing on to the movie. So he called him and left a message explaining that he needed to sign on to the movie, or Bruce would... well, see the above. When the director found out, he found it sufficiently hilarious that he had it added to the script.
  • Divorce Requires Death: Played (sort of) for laughs. The mobster wants to murder his wife because divorce is a sin for Catholics.
  • Duct Tape for Everything: Used to hold a dead man onto a dental scanner.
  • Endearingly Dorky: Props to Oz for actually making a plotpoint out of his likability: Oz is so likable that both Jill and Jimmy are unable to kill him even though they were both supposed to at separate points.
  • Everything Sounds Sexier in French: Sophie (Oz's wife)'s accent is rather strong ("Ooooh, zexy!").
  • Failed Attempt at Drama: Though it's not really the fault of the one being dramatic. When she visits Oz in his hotel room, Cynthia turns on the Femme Fatale act when demanding to know why he hasn't killed Jimmy himself... only to discover, when she gets too close, that he had been throwing up mere moments before her arrival:
    Cynthia: What's the problem; didn't have the stomach for it? Or is your problem a little further... [gives him a tap in a delicate area] south?
    Cynthia: Have you recently vomited?
    Oz: [Apologetically] A minute ago. I was just about to brush my teeth.
    Cynthia: I'll wait.
  • Fanservice: The nude scenes with Jill. At least they have plot relevance (it's to distract some other killers, allowing Jimmy to get the drop on them).
  • Femme Fatale:
    • Jill after finding out about Jimmy has this added to her character, but with the seductive aspect downplayed (and not directed towards the protagonist).
    • Cynthia is presented this way initially: beautiful, sharply dressed, cigarette in hand, in a sympathetic situation yet coming from a complex past with a lot of bad men, and immediately drawing the protagonist's eye. However, she becomes much warmer and isn't particularly manipulative in the end.
  • Friends All Along: Jimmy and Frankie Figgs, except instead of acting like strangers, they act like they want to kill each other.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: Both; Oz's fling with Jimmy's wife Cynthia is depicted as tender and affectionate on both their parts, and turns into a real relationship. However, Oz's wife Sophie squeezing one off with the hitman she hires to kill Oz is depicted as debauched — especially as the hitman is actually a cop. Also Played With by Jimmy, who rejects sleeping with Sophie to both his and Oz's amusement and is very particular about what's good and what's bad, made all the weirder by the immorality of his profession — he is pissed that Oz "shtupped" Cynthia in Chicago. Please note that he was going to kill Cynthia.
  • Hate Sink: Oz's wife. Openly hates her husband, saddled him with all the debt her father racked up with tax fraud and loan sharks, repeatedly (tries) to hire assassins to kill him (and two of them refuse because they like Oz much more than her), cheats on him to seduce one such assassin into doing it, and through it all is just a generally unpleasant and selfish human being. That the professional mafia members in the film all come off as more likeable and sympathetic people than her should say something.
  • Hidden Heart of Gold: Jimmy and Jill give Oz and Cynthia one million dollars of the contract money provided that they get married. Aw.
  • Hitman with a Heart: Played With.
    • Jimmy is very friendly to Oz, even after finding out that Oz's wife Sophie is trying to rat him out to the Gogolak gang. However, he also has no problem with killing anyone who gets in his way, and is livid when he learns that Oz slept with Cynthia — despite his plans to kill her.
    • Jill is a pretty straightforward one, to the point that she choked on killing someone as Endearingly Dorky as Oz for someone as unpleasant as Sophie.
  • Identification by Dental Records: Jimmy tries to put Oz's skills as a dentist to good use.
  • I'm Standing Right Here: Oz finds out Jill was hired to kill him when she's gushing to Jimmy about it right in front of him.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Jimmy tells Frankie Jill "has definite potential" as she's walking away, and she immediately trips on the grass, yelps, and falls over.
  • Jack Bauer Interrogation Technique: Franky Figgs uses this on Oz. It works.
  • The Klutz: Oz. At various points, he spins around, runs into Frankie and falls over, smashes into a glass door, tries to sit on a stack of items as they slowly collapse under him, and almost flips over backwards putting his feet on his desk.
  • Meet Cute: A very interesting subversion with Oz and Cynthia. He's up to his neck in hitmen and death but still finds her beautiful and compellingly strong.
  • Mooks: Being a mob boss and all, Janni always has men around him.
  • Nice Guy: Oz is a really friendly and likeable guy who ends up unwillingly dragged into a noir plot. This is frequently lampshaded. To the point where multiple hired murderers freely admit that they welched on contracts to murder him because they just ended up liking him too much.
  • Not in Front of the Kid: Gleefully averted by Jill, who tells Oz to "go out and get laid!" over the phone. The teenaged girl sitting in the waiting room of Oz's dental office looks mildly amused, her mother does not.
    And call me when you get back. Call me right after. Call me during! I want all the details!
  • Odd Couple: A hitman and a dentist.
  • Only Sane Man: Oz. Cynthia is the Only Sane Woman.
  • Rich Bitch: Oz's wife acts like one and so does her mother, despite the fact it caused Oz' father-in-law and now Oz to be drowning in debt.
  • Running Gag:
    • Oz's beeper scaring the crap out of him because it usually goes off in high-stress situations. For bonus points, it's a really crappy one — he has it set to "vibrate" but it's still so ridiculously loud that it going "beep" would be less attention-grabbing.
      Cynthia: It's your beeper.
      Oz: I know.
    • The characters' annoyance at having mayonnaise put on their burgers.
    • Dentists apparently have a high suicide rate.
    • Both Janni and Lazlo like to pretend to have the same likes as others only to immediately deny it.
  • Scary Black Man: Franky Figgs, who is scary but oddly pleasant until he sucker punches Oz in the gut.
  • Secret Test of Character: Jill performs one on Cynthia before offering her the wedding present.
    Cynthia: I think I love [Oz].
    Jill: You think? Sweetheart, for five million dollars you'd better be damn sure!
    Cynthia: [realizes] ...I am.
  • Sexless Marriage
    Cynthia: I haven't had sex in five years.
    Oz: Neither have I. [Beat] I've been married.
  • Shout-Out: Jimmy at one point describes Nicholas as "the Great and Powerful Oz."
  • Show Some Leg: Jill strips naked to help with dispatching some Professional Killers.
  • Spit Take: On "ten million dollars."
  • Tattooed Crook: Jimmy has a tattoo of his favorite flower (for which is is nicknamed) and Calling Card on his arm. This is how Oz recognizes him (from a newspaper article).
  • This Is Gonna Suck: Frankie says this after going through the pockets of a guy who showed up at the ambushed ambush of Janni with a gun... and finds a police badge.
    Frankie: ...Now ain't this some shit?
  • Title Drop: After summing up Jimmy's Tontine plan.
  • Tontine: The MacGuffin isn't quite a literal tontine, but it has the effect of one.
  • Undercover Cop Reveal: In the first one the guy assassin Oz' wife hires after Jill refused to carry out the hit is actually a cop who was recording their conversations. He gets killed because he went to try and stop the hit on Jimmy by Janni.
  • Villainous Breakdown: With her plot to murder Oz captured on a tape recorder and already facing jail time, Oz's wife has a crying fit, trying to assign blame on Jill for failing to do the job.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: Oz. Later Lampshaded by Cynthia when she comes by to see him.
    Cynthia: [standing very close to him] Have you vomited recently?
    Oz: Just a minute ago. I was about to brush my teeth.
    Cynthia: [moves away] I'll wait.
  • Who's Laughing Now?: Oz and Cynthia dance at their wedding to Gershwin & Gershwin's "They All Laughed", performed by the same lounge singer who performed during Oz's lunch with Jimmy and Frankie. It's appropriate, given that Oz has spent years as the Butt-Monkey for his wife and mother-in-law, both of whom have been arrested for conspiring to murder him.
  • Yandere: Jill is this to Jimmy.
  • You Need to Get Laid: Jill's proposed idea to Oz to make his life suck a little less.

The Whole Ten Yards provide examples of:

  • Acronym Confusion: In the sequel, Lazlo Gogolak often makes mistakes about idioms and terms and hates it when people correct him. For example, he thinks that a DUI and an IUD are the same thing.
  • Berserk Button: Lazlo Gogolak dislikes being corrected.
  • Avenging the Villain:
    • Lazlo Gogolak gets out of prison and immediately starts planning revenge on his son's killers.
    • Also, Oz's new receptionist turns out to be Frankie Figgs's sister, looking for his killer.
  • Did They or Didn't They?: Oz wakes up naked in bed with Jimmy after a night of heavy drinking and dreadfully notices "his ass is sore." Jimmy says that Oz fell down some stairs, only to then say that it was a magical night but not to make too much of it. Later on it's pointed out, there are no stairs.
  • N+1 Sequel Title: Has 10 in the title. This causes it to lose some meaning as "The whole 10 yards" isn't a saying.
  • Properly Paranoid: Cynthia gives Oz grief in the sequel for installing state-of-the-art home protection systems and greeting all guests with a gun. He also wants to build a moat around the house and drops to the ground if a balloon pops nearby. Then, one night, Lazlo Gogolak and the Hungarian mob show up in his house, completely bypassing the alarm system.
  • Recycled Premise: Mob boss coming to kill Jimmy, Jimmy and company scheming to take the boss' money, married men having trouble in their relationships, and Oz' assistant is actually an assassin or would-be assassin. Quick, are we talking about the original, or the sequel?
  • Retired Badass: In the sequel, Jimmy is happy to settle down with Jill in a house on the Mexican coast and be a househusband. He spends his days cleaning, cooking, and taking care of his chickens (all of whom have names). Oz is incredulous when he arrives, and can't believe what he sees (although the first thing he sees is Jimmy emptying a submachinegun clip in his direction). The whole thing was a gambit by Jimmy and Cynthia to take all of Lazlo's money.
  • Smarter Than You Look: Lazlo Gogolák may be eccentric and weird, but he's not stupid. Oz just happens to be a dentist and he was friends with Jimmy, and in the previous film Jimmy died in a manner that meant the only way his body could be identified was through his dental records, and the police used Oz to help verify those dental records. Lazlo immediately sees through the decepetion and tells Cynthia their plan was obvious.

Alternative Title(s): The Whole Ten Yards