Monday, August 15, 2011
30 Minutes or Less (Release Date: 8-12-2011)
Eisenberg stars as Nick, a perma-stoned slacker who delivers pizzas while breaking as many traffic laws as possible. One night after a massive falling out with his best friend Chet (Ansari), Nick is kidnapped during a delivery by a couple of men in monkey masks. The crooks turn out to be a pair of morons, One more sadisticly stupid (McBride), the other more gently embodying idiocy (Nick Swardson). Their evil, master plan goes a little something like this: Hire an assassin (Michael Peña) to kill McBride's wealthy father (Fred Ward) with money that a poor, lowly pizza boy steals from a bank. And how will they force him, you ask? By strapping a bomb to him that only the bumbling perpetrators know how to deactivate. Nick reenlists the aid of Chet, and the Two have ten hours to get the money before the bomb blows.
The first and most important thing to observe about 30 Minutes or Less is that its central conceit is several notches too fearsome to readily inspire comedy, especially when viewed as an vaguely true story (though the studio denies it, there's ample reason to compare the plot to the 2003 case of Brian Wells, which ended with the man being killed). The moments of Nick's initial capture simply cannot be viewed as pure comedy because Eisenberg (wisely) doesn't play it that way. He's genuinely terrified, and it gives the movie a weight that is both intriguing and off-puting. I'll certainly hand it to the movie that this nasty streak allows it to stand out against a season stuffed with R-Rated laughers, but I'm not too sure wether that's a good thing.
In truth, I personally was never going to hate this movie. I've been a big fan of Eisenberg's ever since The Squid and the Whale, and I've been waiting to see Ansari on the big screen for what seems like forever. There are a handful of real laughs in the thing, and, clocking out at 82 minutes, you couldn't really accuse it of over-staying its welcome. So, yeah, I enjoyed myself while watching it, but I have to say that, deep down, I think of it as a pretty lousy flick. Besides the stomach-turning nature of its, 'hilarious,' plot, 30 Minutes or Less also has the misfortune of having ALL THREE of its leads be pretty One-note performers, Eisenberg's twitchy smart-ass, Ansari's bug-eyed shouter (your ear drums might ring after this One), and McBride's classic, 'worst person in the world.'
While my personal affections allow me to forgive the former Two performers, I've grown completely exhausted with McBride's potty-mouthed, egotistical moron. Endless crassness is rarely clever, and McBride has been offering the the same stupid brand of it for years now. Between this and Your Highness, he's definitely my candidate of choice for this year's Razzie for Worst Actor. 30 Minutes or Less certainly had me laughing in moments, but it leaves the viewer feeling dirty afterwards, an avalanche of too-twisted humor, complete and utter objectification of women, and absolutely relentless negativity flowing freely from it. If that sounds like a fun time at the movies to you, then be my guest, but I can't help but think that the Four guys listed in the first paragraph had better get working on a better project soon, because this One is not going to cut it.