johnlink ranks 30 MINUTES OR LESS (2011)

I’m watching more movies this year. No particular conscious effort to do so. Mostly a result of less than intriguing television options, the movie slice of my entertainment pie has gotten larger. I took five days off between SOCIAL NETWORK and 30 MINUTE OR LESS, due to the fact that I was in New Hampshire for a drama festival. So while I took almost a week off from movies, I did see twelve excellent high school plays in two and a half days. Regardless, it was my first five day stretch without seeing a movie since mid-March. Why am I writing all of this? Does it matter? Absolutely not. Let’s talk about a movie…

I watched 30 MINUTES OR LESS (2011) on 4.28.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

This is the first Jesse Eisenberg vehicle post-SOCIAL NETWORK (they even get a little joke in there about his character, Nick, saying he is ‘off the grid’ and not doesn’t have a Facebook account). I like Eisenberg, he’s charming and likable, even if his range is relatively limited at this point in his career. 30 MINUTES OR LESS is a sub-90 minute flick which has a couple of newly-bad villains strapping a bomb to Eisenberg’s chest and telling him he has a day to get them $100,000. This is a comedy straight up, with reality serving merely as a road-bump for the execution of crazy scenarios.

The script is decidedly average. I did laugh out loud several times, but I shrugged off lame jokes just as often. The story unfolds just the way you think it might. Where Director Ruben Fleischer was an asset in bringing the script for ZOMBIELAND to life, his work on 30 MINUTES OR LESS is not as inspiring. Everything about this movie is pretty average save for, perhaps, the relationship built by the two leads: Eisenberg and comedian Aziz Ansari.

My jury has not returned a verdict on Danny McBride. I really liked him in small doses in TROPIC THUNDER and I admire his work on the few episodes I’ve seen of his HBO show EASTBOUND & DOWN (even if that show hasn’t been good enough to rope me in). But for the gold he mines in any given performance, he also tends to irritate me just as much. He is constantly playing characters who seem to revel in having no redeeming qualities, even when he plays heroes (though he is the villain here). Will Ferrell annoyed me in the same way at the start of his career, though his schtick was to play dumb characters rather than assholes. Ferrell has grown on me with some of his post-prime performances though. I think McBride has talent to be sure, I just would love to see him find more material like his small role in UP IN THE AIR.

I did like Michael Pena’s turn as a hitman and Fred Ward’s role as McBride’s ex-marine father. However, something happens between Pena and Ward which never gets fully resolved. Ward’s character is such an after-thought that we never learn his fate. It is almost as if the film goes out of its way to make sure that all these people who get shot, set on fire, or blown-up are done so in a way to never show their death. The film feels like it is trying to create the potential for a sequel, though the result leads to an sterile, innocuous climax.

I did like how they incorporated Nick’s job as a pizza delivery guy into the narrative. It makes for an entertaining first encounter with the bad guys as well as allowing the car chase to be more activated. However, it also ensures the uber-slacker Nick is a guy who doesn’t want anything but a girl. How or why he wants that girl is not elaborated upon. Because you know, then he’d have to do something with his life. When the movie ends, I don’t feel like anything would be different for Nick when he woke up the next morning.

I just wish this movie had more pop. It entertained for 80 minutes, but certainly didn’t leave a strong impression. It was just another average comedy which floats out a bunch of non-sequitur jokes to try and see what sticks. I laughed some, I smiled some, and when I shut it off I didn’t leave particularly impressed or unimpressed.

How’s that for an affirmation?







~ by johnlink00 on April 29, 2012.

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