Sunday, 4 December 2011

Film Review: 30 Minutes Or Less

Aimless pizza boy Nick (Eisenberg) is duped into a false delivery to a scrapyard where two self-professed criminal master minds, Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Swardson), knock him unconscious. Nick awakes to find a booby trapped vest laden with C4 strapped to his chest. He is duly informed that he has ten hours to acquire $100,000 or the bomb goes boom. Calling on the help of ex-BFF, Chet (Ansari), the hapless duo must figure a way out of Nick's predicament.

The plot couldn't be any more idiotic. Working on the age-old buddy-up dynamic, the logic of 30 Minutes or Less is that if one team of bumbling idiots is funny, then two of them should be absolutely hysterical. What ensues is a 'battle of the buddies', team A comprising of Nick and his childhood friend turned accomplice Chet, team B slacker Dwayne and his halfwitted partner in crime, Travis. While it is a familiar tale of taking crackbrained companions and merely doubling the amount of them onscreen, this is a bromance without the sweetness usually seen in other, more enjoyable films like I Love You, Man. Indeed, this is Bro-humour at its finest, and as a consequence can be pretty overbearing as the film inanely switches between one feckless pair of idiots to another.

One might be inclined to hold hope for 30 Minutes or Less, given that comes from the same combo who brought us Zombieland. However, like Eisenberg's character there is a distinct lack of purpose in here, director Ruben Fleischer likewise failing to invigorate proceedings. It's actually alarmingly palpable how appealing this would be to pot smokers, it's vibe embodied in the lazy, coarse archetypes of its characters. And yet, this is just about forgivable given how obviously low-aiming it is.

Admittedly this can be reasonably amusing at times, displaying more than a couple of decent zing moments. Jokes aimed at other movies are particularly droll, for example Eisenberg, who played Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network, takes a potshot at Facebook by saying "you know I don't check that shit out". Likewise when Chet discomposedly attempts to remove the bomb Nick asks "what did they do in the Hurt Locker?". Chet replies "I don't know, I didn't see it!" (the joke being no one else did either). However, there are also bungled comedic moments in equal measure, including a car-jacking scene and a bank robbery which are just so overwrought that you'll scarcely muster a grin.

Jesse Eisenberg plays the same role as always - a nerdy, awkward, smart-ass 20 something - much the same way Michael Cera is the same character in every film he's in. Danny McBride, like in Your Highness, is a boorish wannabe alpha-male douche. I'm actually beginning to wonder whether either actor has much more in their repertoire, less they are fast becoming typecast stock actors for certain roles in certain movies. Their sidekicks, who ostensibly should provide comedy counterpunches, don't fare much better either as both Ansari and Swardson are just too one-dimensional to provide any really interesting banter.

If one were to be kind, 30 Minutes or Less is blitheful enough, but it coasts far too much without earning the gravitas to do so. Its main staying power is its cast, but their characters are so dubious that it would be a stretch to say they make up for everything else. Thankfully this ultimately disposable comedy never goes on longer than it need to.