If I was to tell you about a movie where a man is knocked out, has a bomb strapped to his chest and is forced to rob a bank under the threat of death, the chances are you’d think I was talking about a gritty action movie starring Keifer Sutherland or Liam Neeson.
But 30 Minutes or Less is a comedy. Well…it’s supposed to be a comedy.
In truth, I didn’t really laugh at any point, despite it starring Aziz Ansari, who is very funny as Tom Haverford in Parks & Recreation.
The problem with is was that the writing wasn’t up to much, the plot was ridiculous and half of the main cast were terrible.
While I would give pass marks to Ansari and lead actor Jesse Eisenberg (despite him doing a Michael Cera and playing exactly the same part in every film he’s in), Nick Swardson (Travis) and Danny McBride (Dwayne) were dreadful.
And I know that some people will instantly jump to McBride’s defence because he’s supposed to be good in Eastbound & Down (although I have to admit I gave up on that show after three episodes), but he’s not good in this.
The level of acting – and writing to be fair – that went into the characters of Dwayne & Travis were akin to the sort of thing you’d expect from a mid 90s TV movie starring David Spade. Unrealistic, stupid characters making ‘comedy dumb’ mistakes throughout.
The plot was paper-thin too and is very easily analysed as being ridiculous. I don’t want to be ‘that guy’ who looks too deeply into a film that was intended to be light-hearted and amusing, but if you plant a bomb vest on someone and tell them not to go to the police or else you’d blow it up, surely you’d be concerned when that person makes unscheduled stops to pick up his mate from his work, visit his girlfriend and to his own work to quit his job? Personally I’d assume he had told someone to tell the police. But no, it neither occurs to Dwayne & Travis that he might be doing it, or to Eisenberg’s character to do it.
And despite it being played for laughs all the way through, the death/body count is ridiculous. Serious car crashes, a man burned alive with a flamethrower, another guy blown up in a van, and all without any hint of seriousness.
So the problem as I see it is that they try to make an unfunny and grim situation into a light-hearted romp and yet keep a certain level of seriousness in the fallout from it, and it just doesn’t work.
Having said that, it did at least keep my attention, which – come to think of it – is remarkable.
Should You Watch 30 Minutes or Less?
I watched it because there was nothing on TV late last night, and it was a film I hadn’t seen on Sky Anytime. There were better uses for my time.
If I was define a situation where this sort of film would be bearable, it’d be on a long haul flight where there is nothing else to do but kill time.