30 Minutes or Less is the type of comedy that is entertaining because there are entertaining people involved. If you enjoy the general antics of Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari and Nick Swardson, there will be something to take away from the film — but don’t expect much else.
Ruben Fleischer re-teams with his Zombieland star for a comedic take on a 2003 pizza-delivery-man-strapped-with-bomb-forced-to-rob-bank story, even though those involved with the film have continually denied any knowledge or direct link to the true tragic events. If you read our August movie preview, you saw that Noah was not a fan of taking this story and extracting a comedy, and many others may have the same feelings. Without prior knowledge of the events, you can see how this idea works as a comedy — but there is an unsettling tone that never quite matches some of the dark events in the film. This is partly excused through the moronic natures of McBride and Swardson, but the comedic value of the film could have benefited from pulling more from the incredible insanity of the situation.
The film seems to pull back from its dark roots in other ways, too. One specific instance that I noticed from the trailers of the film is a lack of romantic interest (a lack of any female characters, really). I shouldn’t have been fooled, though, as a romantic interest plot line awkwardly makes an appearance to drive artificial conflict between our male leads and then provide a clichéd rescue at the film’s end. Many viewers may not have a problem with this specific plot point, but only because it is such safe, contrived territory that mirrors other minor problems throughout the rest of the film. Similarly, the film has tied itself to the trend of R-Rated comedies that have decided to shed creative jokes with potty humor (see: the difference between The Hangover and The Hangover Part II). Because of the talent involved, the blue material is bound to get laughs, but at what cost?
Even with many of the problems the film has as a comedy, it is short and sweet and littered with talented actors. Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, et al give you the performances you expect, so that obviously accounts for something — this strangely may just be the thing that keeps it from transcending into a really good film. As far as the big, widely released comedies of the year, it rates as watchable, disposable and ultimately forgettable.
My Best of 2012 Playlist by Eric Garneau
After being inspired by some friends, for the past few years I’ve been really into documenting my musical exploration with year-end mixes. I realize this is not a particularly novel thing to do, but hey, who has original ideas any more? Anyway, this has gotten even easier to do thanks to new technology like Spotify. read more