If you’ve seen the late, great MTV sketch comedy show The State (look for the long-awaited DVD in October) or 2001’s summer-camp-movie parody Wet Hot American Summer, you can imagine what the Bible’s gonna look like in the hands of director David Wain. Or maybe not in The Ten, Wain and cowriter Ken Marino interpret the 10 Commandments with typically off-the-wall (and thus completely unpredictable) humor. I recently spoke with Wain, who doesn’t fancy himself the next Cecil B. DeMille ("I never saw [The Ten Commandments], but I’m gonna check it out") but does have a firm grip on the funny.
On how The Ten fits into the slew of films about spirituality: "I certainly don’t think of it as a biblical film. It’s really just using the 10 Commandments as thematic launching-off points for 10 entertaining stories. We’re not out to make any particular point about religion. [Our takes on the commandments] are fast and loose we’re like the Roger and Me of biblical movies."
On the script: "With each [commandment], we tried to attack it from a different angle and come up with something that was in a slightly different style and genre and yet sort of have a cohesive sensibility. We just said, ‘What is covet thy neighbor’s wife? Probably prison rape.’ And so on."
On the cast, which features members of The State and also several big-name actors: "We were huge fans of Winona Ryder and begged her to do it, and she said yes. We were very lucky, because I think actors saw that it was something different and not a big time commitment, so we were able to get a level of cast that we really never would have dreamed of."
And, of course, one you’ll have to see the movie to appreciate, on Oliver Platt’s Terminator impression: "Not only did he not have it [before the movie], he never got it. I mean, the average guy on the street does a better Arnold Schwarzenegger than Oliver Platt does. And I think that’s what’s funny about it." (Cheryl Eddy)
THE TEN Opens Fri/3 in Bay Area theaters. See Movie Clock at www.sfbg.com