I like a movie title that tells it like it is. 30 Minutes or Less is about the time it takes to completely forget most of what you just saw. Sure, you’ll remember a few key scenes and a couple gags, and you won’t really hate it, like the pizza being delivered by the protagonist of the film, you enjoy it while you are eating it but an hour later you’ll feel like a fat ass and wish you had gone for a walk or called your son instead.
I think a big problem plaguing comedies these post Judd Apatow years is that directors all want to make their main characters dumb as shit so they are relatable. In this attempt at the kind of wacky-buddy-comedy perfected in the 80s, they miss one key element those films all shared….someone….ANYONE in those films wasn’t a complete idiot that just stumbled through life on their luck. They were all characters who were much smarter than they acted. In 30 Minutes Or Less its all just a game of luck. These stoner losers both good and bad guys haphazardly make it through the whole ordeal on their fucking luck. Sure we are supposed to believe Mark Zuckerburg is just some “slacker” who’s “not reaching his potential”, but in the end, you can’t help but think the whole movie just runs on luck, which really takes away from its sticking factor. It gives you no reason to give a shit about the outcome of anything. At least a similarish movie, Four Lions had the balls to give all those dumbfucks a fitting ending. Of course, internet dorks worldwide will see a little of themselves in the lead character of 30 Mins or Less.
Now I’ve gotten some flack about my earnest mistrust of this film, because I’ve been told “Well you laughed all the way through? How can you not have liked it?” Well I laugh….I laugh at everything, I wanna have a good time and YES the movie is entertaining enough to get a decent chuckle throughout….but I’ll never watch it again…I wasn’t quoting it all week like most great comedies. Its a decent time-waster and I’m glad I didn’t pay for it. There really isn’t any reason for anyone to RUN OUT AND SEE THIS MOVIE.
After Zombieland, I said, “[Ruben Fleischer] has the gusto to direct any Ghostbusters sequel they may or may not make“. After seeing 30 Mins or Less, I guess its a good thing he knows his limits better than I do. Its odd because I realize all those small feeling, TV style shots in Zombieland weren’t just a first timer thing, that’s just Ruben’s look. He has no real grand scope. So say he did end up directing this said next Ghostbusters movie, the results would’ve probably been terrible. At least with this movie he realizes that he’s better with a smaller story. He does a good job handling it. Its just odd to see a director who was running off of great critic and dork cred to scale back so much. I don’t know if its good or bad….its just odd. Also in weird career moves Jesse Eisenberg….in THIS??? Any momentum he may have generated with the Facebook movie he has now effectively killed. You can sense that like his character he just wanted to get the fucking movie filmed so he can move on to something better. I don’t know why he did this. I know he likes comedies, maybe he feels he owes Ruben? Maybe it read a lot funnier? That’s not to say he’s bad, just that you can sense that he like his character feels like this is all beneath him now. THAT or much like Ruben, he also knows the limits of his abilities?
As for everyone else….well I don’t know what it is about Danny McBride that just makes everyone else he works with lazy? I like him but his schtick in here was tired and labored, and Nick Swardson isn’t a good enough actor to play the role of the idiot’s idiot sidekick. I never really bought their relationship and it was too obvious that Nick wasn’t that dumb, surprising I know, seeing as though it’s usually his goal to play the dumbest guy you’ve ever seen. Back to McBride, what is it about his riffing that makes directors feel like they need to film and show us fucking ALL OF IT?!!
The best movie to compare this to is Pineapple Express, if you loved that movie, no reason you won’t enjoy this. One thing this has over that one though is its pacing. This movie is like a typical Apatow overlorded movie, but edited to a snappy pace. There aren’t extra long lulls where they let a joke linger far too long.
The final thing that this movie suffers from is ‘Traileritis’, in that the biggest laughs are all in the trailer. Usually I don’t notice this, but here it was particularity interesting, because judging from the crowd I had obviously seen a lot more TV spots than they all had, even the person I went with who had seen the same TV spots didn’t recall them. When the scene that got the biggest reaction of the whole movie happened, it plays out exactly like it does in the trailers and man did I feel like an alien. People were clapping, high-fiveing, a baby was born, and all I could think about was how mildly funny that was the first time I saw it….20 views later, not so much. I’ve thought about what makes these big laughs you see a million times in a trailer still work within a film, and it seems to be when the lead-up to a joke isn’t obvious. If the joke plays out exactly like the trailer, then it fails because there is nothing fresh or surprising. If there is enough new padding around the ‘big gag’, and you don’t fully expect it to play that way, then it can still work.
For anyone that’s ever wondered if you can really make an Apatow movie less than two hours in length, then I suggest you tie Judd up and lynch him, then force him to watch this and make him actually edit shit out of his fucking films from here on out and not use every minute of material. Because at least this was a breezy ride, that’s what it really had going for it. Also, if you have been following Rules of Engagement these past 6 years, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised with of the casting choices of the film. But in the end you’ll mainly just wonder why Ben Stiller produced this robbery-buddy-comedy and is now starring in a robbery-buddy-comedy both of which feature Michael Peña as ‘Underdeveloped Character #6’????????????
OH! And Fred Ward is in there somewhere, and Aziz is……Aziz.