Why do filmmakers persist in making sequels to movies nobody seems to have liked in the first place, let alone loved with the kind of passion that leaves them hungry for more? That question is likely to wander through the mind of anyone enduring The Whole Ten Yards, the follow-up to 2000's slickly mediocre The Whole Nine Yards, and the least necessary sequel since Agent Cody Banks embarked on a London mission a few weeks ago.
The Whole Nine Yards' post-Tarantino comic juxtaposition of professional crime and banal suburban life wasn't exactly fresh. Now, several seasons of The Sopranos later, the joke is as dead as the toe-tagged victims that hit man Bruce Willis plowed through in the first film. But that hasn't kept the filmmakers from lugging it around Weekend At Bernie's-style in an attempt to simulate life and vitality.
As the film opens, former hit man Willis has retired to a life of domestic drudgery, much to the chagrin of trigger-happy Amanda Peet, who wants him to stop cooking and cleaning and start murdering people, like the man she fell in love with. Willis is afforded an opportunity to get back in action and reunite with mismatched dentist buddy Matthew Perry when Perry's wife and Willis' ex (Natasha Henstridge) are kidnapped by crudely stereotyped mob boss Kevin Pollak, who lays it on as extra-thick as his unconvincing old-man makeup.
What follows is glaringly perfunctory: Perry sputters and mugs, Willis does an inscrutable crazy-guy routine that seems to amuse only himself, and Peet throws herself at both of her leading men. The original was a smoothly plotted piece of formula filmmaking, but its sequel can't even earn that faint praise.