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Home » Film

30 Minutes or Less

Submitted by MBergeron on August 12, 2011 – 3:10 pmNo Comment
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The entire history of inept criminal movies lays littered with classics and carcasses. Put 30 Minutes or Less in the latter category. Titles like Big Deal on Madonna Street or The Lavender Hill Mob or The Ladykillers, all from the 50s took the separate genres of crime thriller and comedy and successfully mixed same.
The tonal complexities of making this work cinematically can be child’s play in the hands of, say, the Coen Brothers. But even their 2004 remake of Ladykillers was pale in comparison to Fargo, a film that combined mirth and a wood chipper to startling effect. So when 30 Minutes tries to blend stoner guy laughs with a bank robbery scheme involving an unwilling heist meister who’s been wired with a bomb that will explode if he doesn’t participate the stakes are automatically higher than if the film in question was the latest Harold and Kumar adventure.

There’s a scene between two of the minor characters of 30 Minutes or Less played by Michael Pena and Fred Ward that was a tense standoff, with no overt laughs but with a substantial subliminal chuckle that was better than any other scene in the film. Yet it seemed totally out of place, not only because these guys aren’t the main stars, but because the rest of the movie demands a lower standard of execution.

Lead characters Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari go broke for grins with material that’s not funny. Danny McBride and Nick Swardson are even less so. The incident similar to the one fictionalized in the movie actually happened but 30 Minutes or Less changes all the tangential facts and runs the typical disclaimer that the movie is a work of fiction not based on any real characters. After the credit roll, long after everyone has exited the theater, a commercial for McBride’s Tanning Salon (referred to during the movie) unwinds.

- Michael Bergeron

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