30 Minutes or Less
After seeing 30 Minutes or Less, one can clearly see all the contention built of its parallels to another, more tragic story are just coincidence. Not to say 30 is drastically different, but there is no evidence the filmmakers thought that hard about the connection. They really didn’t seem to think too much about anything in this case.
We are presented, once again, with a threadbare story meant to be justified by its uproarious ensemble cast. How could anyone go wrong with throwing three comedy veterans (a term used loosely) and that kid from Social Network and Zombieland together and let them have fun? Yet, another case of the whole being less than the sum of its parts (see also: Horrible Bosses).
Danny McBride seems to be stuck in a rut, playing the same vulgar, brash character over and over again. Not to say he isn’t good at it – he’s pitch-perfect in Eastbound and Down – but can he do anything else? One quickly numbs to the ill-timed and incorrect sexual metaphors he spouts ad nausea and longs to hear something fresh. The hero of the story, Jesse Eisenberg, conveys languid well, perhaps too well. He is glum and monotone, never rising to the level of his peers; he doesn’t seem adapted for comedy. Aziz Ansari, often the best source of one-liners on Parks and Recreation, continues to bring the urgency and humor everyone else seems to have left behind.
The biggest detriment of 30 is the ambiguity – should we really consider McBride a criminal mastermind (especially with Nick Swardson as his inexplicably inept sidekick) or is it all in good tongue-in-cheek fun? Is this script commentary on the plethora of cheesy thrillers that have come before it or a poor imitation of the source material? Over-thinking aside, 30 Minutes or Less is funny – several times disturbing and/or bizarre – but funny; I only wish it were more so (a common theme this summer). Perhaps the golden age of cinema improv is dead. Perhaps it’s time for writers to start writing again.