Holiest of holies

David Wain preaches the virtues of The Ten

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

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