Monday, August 15, 2011
Review: 30 Minutes or Less (2011) TH
You might want to be smashed for this one
This is a film where the ludicrous story is in the background with the players throwing out banter, odd little quirks and working on friendship through the thick and thin in the foreground. There's the two buddies who've got each other's back, or at least they initially thought when secrets come out about Chet (Aziz Ansari) confessing to being the culprit for Nick's (Jesse Eisenberg) parent's divorce and Nick sleeping with Chet's twin sister one time way back. On the opposite corner, Dwayne (Danny McBride) lives at home with his lottery-winning, Marine-spouting dad who belittles him. So he turns right back around and acts all dominating and self-centered to the tag-along Travis (Nick Swardson) who wants to make an impression, so he'll do just about anything for his respect.
As the title suggests Nick is a "30 Minutes or Less" pizza guy who hates his job. Meanwhile Dwayne despises his dad and from the advice of a stripper decides to hire a hitman to take care of his father and collect his remaining lottery bankroll. He'll need $100 grand of his own for the hire and decides to get some pizza dude to rob a bank for him with some convincing of a bomb vest. Yep, the story is pretty ridiculous to say the least--despite supposedly mirroring real life events in Pennsylvania--as point A doesn't always smoothly line up to point B in the film. Dwayne and Travis have an idea--wham!--they have a solution fall into their lap, literally. Nick is presented with a dilemma--wham!--he jumps right into it like it was his calling card. Director Ruben Fleischer along with Eisenberg did a great turn around for "Zombieland" and you might except them to have done so here. Except this is either a make it or break it movie, since the scenarios are over-the-top and the dialogue is going for broke with the goofy, juvenile and throwing a parade with low self-esteem--sex, gay, racist jokes that might be funnier on substances but a share of them throwaway otherwise--instead of possibly the witty or setting up punchlines, which makes this more a single shot film than a repeater.
It felt like they tried too hard at times for that laugh by saying whatever to get a reaction rather than working through a scene. Other films have gotten away and proved to be thoroughly funny gems with a similar setup, but that's pretty much all this has going for it with not too many tricks up its sleeves otherwise. It's an attempt at a simple laugh riot by taking a trip to the loony land of the thought to be implausible. Though it doesn't always fully sculpt that world they take you to. It feels like you got invited to a gathering, yet don't always get a full feel for the people around you to truly let loose and have a grand time yourself because they're nothing but loafers, idiotic and get themselves in entanglements for all the wrong reasons--not exactly charismatic to say the least, even when laughing at them. Not to mention the character development went in and out whenever they felt like it: from knowing better to not knowing better, to doing it because they're forced but then enjoying getting caught up in it.
Swardson probably has the most range as he's nearly capable--he was the one who built a complex bomb after all--but doesn't want to let down a friend, so he goes along to get along. The others arrive in one state and leave in a similar state: little growth, little to learn. The credits rolled down somewhat abruptly without showing the after party where their adventurous story is told or their reward is enjoyed. Yeah, it's a silly comedy but there doesn't feel like that much in the way of a challenge rather than a contrivance for life's struggles, as a share of the setups are there to a point, just not always capitalized on or transitioned to its own advantage. The twin sister literally feels like the twin sister without a name, as she's dropped off in the story somewhere as a mirage to work towards for the slacker Nick, as everybody else around him is becoming more successful. Chet so happens to like his full time teaching job, and Nick's lost love so happens to be moving to Atlanta during all this mayhem. There were some lines here that are funny from the jittery Aziz Ansari and some here nor there from the others, but overall hit and miss. To its credit the movie goes by very quickly, as in they move from one place to the next in a rapid succession, even if what they're doing doesn't always feel that gravitating or memorable past a cursory viewing, if that even. If you're a die hard fan of a performer here, I recommend a rental. A free rental. A free rental when you're all taxed out and there's nothing else to watch.
Director: Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland)
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson