Monday, August 15, 2011

Reivew: 30 Minutes or Less

Toilet Humour

I don't like keeping things brief. Despite my attempts to keep things focused, my writing quickly descends into multiple rambling paragraphs. But today I make an exception. Because I don't care anywhere near enough about 30 Minutes or Less to justify anymore than a handful of sentences.

In short, Jesse Eisenberg stars as a guy who gets a bomb attached to him by Danny McBride. McBride wants Eisenberg to rob a bank so he can get enough money to assassinate his millionaire father. If it sounds like contrived nonsense, that's because it is. The plot goes from one incredible stretch to another, never really accepting that the basic premise is absurdly over-complex. The plot just continues to grow more and more illogical as the brief running time progresses, even finding time to feature trite romantic subplots along the way. It's a significant step back for director Ruben Fleischer following the unspectacular but frequently amusing Zombieland.

All the actors are on autopilot here; basic and infinitely uninteresting riffs on their more well known creations. The humour shits all over subtlety from the off; relying on cheap, crude gags and, bizarrely, the odd excursion into racial jokes (calling a character of Indian descent 'Slumdog' has no place in this modern day and age). Punchlines are frequently over-elaborated upon, just in case you didn't get it first time around. The plot rarely misses an opportunity for a cliched, derivative development. And, despite hints that it might explore darker territories, the frequent sex jokes are about as mature as all this gets. The cast mostly linger around the moderately annoying - Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride provide particularly over-enthusiastic performances - with Michael Pena providing a distractingly weird turn as a hitman.

The only nice thing I can say about this film is that it's relatively short. But even at the length suggested by its misleading title it would feel stretched. The final scene is the best - a well-paced conclusion that cuts to credits without even a superfluous line of dialogue. Alas, it's followed by a crude post-credits rethread of a profoundly unfunny running joke. But the brief conclusion is too little, too late. 30 Minutes or Less provokes the worst kind of apathy. It's not traditionally bad, it's just offensively mediocre. And sometimes the latter is a far worse crime.

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