Wednesday, 21 September 2011

REVIEW: 30 Minutes Or Less

Making movies for slackers doesn't really mean you get to be one.

What happened with Ruben Flesicher's last movie, Zombieland, is essentially a scenario they should teach in advertising college. That movie had an aura of cool, of anti-establishment smart-assery long before it actually came out. It had people celebrating it on arrival, and scored more than one ecstatic review from respectable critical entities, and yet what was so remarkable about it was how utterly tame and ultimately toothless it was. What an incredible sell they made here. I don't hate the movie, largely thanks to Woody Harrelson, but it is about as unhip as it possible to be, and zombie movie spoof that seemed to know nothing about zombie movies or even respect them, from the fact that there's not one zombie kill of a speaking character (Seriously have you guys EVER even seen a zombie movie?) to the forced teen romance and ridiculously positive ending. In a way it was the ultimate hipster movie, something that presented a perfectly formed veneer of ironic smarts on the outside, but as it's core was obvious, dumb and empty.

I say this because 30 Minutes Or Less seemed to carry that same sense of superficial coolness and slacker pandering, but was equally as lazy and uninspired when it came to actually being funny. Again the casting is canny, Fleischer gets Eisenberg back, whose stock has considerably risen since Zombieland, as well as Aziz Ansari, whose status as a rising star comedian has only been amplified by starring one of the best sitcoms on TV right now in Parks And Recreation. He's got Danny McBride, who might just be starting his down-slide, but for now still cuts as a credible comedy star. But there's a couple of problems here. Eisenberg and Ansari don't make a particularly charismatic pairing, mostly due the latter, who might be this generation's Chris Rock in the way he's so fantastic as a stand-up but sort of a lackluster actor. His goofy, over the top performance is ill at ease with Eisenberg who just might be too good for this movie, and gives a performance that doesn't really get on board with the movie's ridiculous tone.

If it has a saving grace it's probably McBride, although he's just doing the same thing he's done many times before, but having said that McBride is a pretty good actor, and it makes me curious to see what he'd do if taken a little more out of his comfort zone. He and sidekick Nick Swardson are occasionally amusing, as is Michael Pena in a turn as an Hispanic hitman. But the whole thing feels overbearingly obvious, no joke catches you by surprise and comedy is at its best when it gives you what you're not expecting. Fleischer's style seems to be give you exactly what you expect at all times, and without a Woody Harrelson or a Bill Murray to make these weak punchlines land, well it just makes the thing incredibly forgettable. A movie that will never cross anyone's mind ever again, and frankly I want Fleischer to try a little bit harder with the material next time. Because you can get away with that shit once, but as the critical and box office response to this movie would suggest, two times is a lot harder to pull off.

Rating: 5/10

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