Movie Review: 30 Minutes or Less
With bonus feature: why 3D is officially dead to me now.
I have been looking forward to this film since I first saw the trailer. It looks funny, has gorillas in it (or guys in gorilla masks), bombs, and stars a pizza deliver guy, a job I did for 3 years before and after college. All the elements for a great film, right? Well, in this case the equation added up correctly, as I laughed my ass off.
I’m a little perplexed here, to be honest. I checked a few other reviews and have found a lot of other people hated it for being too dark and/or mean. But really, how is it scatological humor in the Change Up is funny and the inane coincidence pseudo humor in Crazy, Stupid Love is heartwarming yet the frenetic gallows humor this movie hinges around is too dark and grim to be worth laughing at? Horrible Bosses was a better example of grim humor failing to be funny than this one by a long shot.
I don’t know. I just have to go with my own gut reaction, and that reaction is I was laughing a lot during this movie. It might be a matter of personal perspective. I have always appreciated gallows humor and can really understand the concept of if you are going to die anyway than there is nothing to lose by stomping on the gas and blowing through a toll booth at 120 mph.
I will say I had a weird reaction on the drive home. I was thinking about the film and remembering laughing a lot. However, I was hard pressed to actually recall which specific lines or scenes I was laughing at. I feel the biggest problem this film will suffer from is forgetability. It’s a film equivalent of self pleasuring yourself; good for the moment, but really not that satisfying and in the end you have to think to remember what motivated you to do it.
Speaking of self pleasure, I know I say this a lot, but the girl in this movie could easily be my future wife, assuming she has a thing for bitter movie critics who sell nerd t-shirts. I have always had a thing for Indian girls (Dilshad Vadsaria is actually Pakistani, but you get the idea) and dated one for seven wonderful months (before getting dumped right after Christmas. Another pleasant drive by down memory lane). I was afraid I might be creepy in the way too old thing, but then I found out she is 34, which puts her in my date range (my birthday was Monday, by the way. You don’t have to get me anything). This might have added a lot to my enjoyment of the movie.
Anyway, the movie. Jessie Eisenberg plays Nick, a go nowhere loser who delivers pizza for a living and works for a true jackass (sounds EXTREMELY familiar). Danny McBride (Your Highness) is Dwayne, a go nowhere loser who is living off his dad’s lottery winnings. He takes a lot of (well deserved) abuse from his dad, a retired Marine major (Fred Ward). He comes up with a plan to off his dad for the inheritance so he can open a tanning salon/brothel, and is going to hire a hit man a local stripper hooked him up with (strippers being eminently trustworthy when it comes to planning capital crimes). His best friend Travis (Nick Swardson) is a pyromaniac nut with a talent for explosives. In order to pay the hit man (Michale Pena) he needs $100,000. He cooks up the plan to force a local pizza guy to do it by strapping a bomb to his chest (not the dumbest plan ever).
I think this is where the movie started to really appeal to me. I love white trash humor (having come from a long line of white trash) and can totally see some of my cousins cooking up this plan. There is something about white trash plans that combines real stupidity with real ingenuity that works for me. In this case, the plan is kind of dumb but functional, and the technical expertise it took to make the bomb vest was pretty ingenious.
Anyway, Nick’s best friend is Chet (Aziz Ansari from Parks and Recreation), with whom he shares a real bromance/hate relationship that feels 100% real and was easily the best part of the movie. Chet’s sister is Kate, the aforementioned Pakistani hotty and with whom Nick has had some past history, hence a lot of the friction between Nick and Chet. Nick and Chet decide to make the robbery happen. Humorous bank robbery hijinks ensues. Stuff blows up. Nick shows off his driving skills. Plans go awry.
The stars. Pretty funny IMO. Two stars. The chemistry between both Nick and Chet and Dwayne and Travis felt really real and believable. One star. Dilshad Vadsaria. One star. Danny McBride was particularly funny. One star. Pacing was really well done, with pretty much every scene adding to the movie. One star. Some gratuitous nude scenes at a strip club. One star. While the language and humor was definitely rated R, it didn’t feel like they were doing it on purpose just to be R rated. One star. Great supporting characters. One star. Generally fun experience. One star. Total: ten stars.
Now the black holes. In spite of what I think is a decent, funny movie in the end I feel I am not going to retain a lot from it. One black hole. While I appreciate the gallows humor, the ultimate darkness of the film made me not really sympathetic to any of the characters. Even the so called “good guys” turn out to be self interested jerks towards the end. One black hole. While I am not a super avid CSI fan, I know something about crime and Nick and Chet left a forensic trail big enough to land a 747 on. One black hole. There was on scene in particular that felt fake and dumb (the “rape kit” scene). One black hole. Total: four black holes.
So a grand total of six stars. This is actually pretty good for a non-comic book or sci fi movie from me. Not a good date movie, unless your date is a huge Harold and Kumar fan. See it with a couple friends, and if you loce it up in the car beforehand I don’t think you will lose much. I don’t think you will lose much if you see it on your TV either, so there is not a huge drive to see it on a screen. As a matter of fact, if you managed to pick up a copy for your private collection this is a pretty good “play-something-in-the-background-while-we-drink-beer-and-eat-pizza” movie. Might be worth adding to the collection.
As for the bonus feature for this post, I have seen the death knell of 3D. While waiting on line to buy my ticket I saw a poster for (no joke) Glee in 3D. Yes, annoying technology has now been misapplied in a manner so bizarre as to suck out the last remaining bits of cool like a starving vampire liplocked to it’s jugular and leave it’s moldy corpse rotting down Mundane Alley. This is like using the Batmobile to pick up your kids a daycare. Seriously? Dumb ass kids dancing in 3D? Think about it. The venue that 3D will always work best in is action and/or horror, because the one thing 3D does well is the flying machete coming at your face. The doom of 3D was written when Hollywood realized just putting 3D in the title of a movie is a way of milking that cash cow for a few more bucks. I am officially over 3D. I might see a 3D movie in the future but, given a choice, will save the money and go 2D. Dumb plastic glasses can bite me.
My friend Josh is coming out with some great videos with his crew on the Geek Down show. Check out this best comic movie of the year debate. Not sure how much I can agree with them. The best comic movie of the year was X-Men First Class in my less than humble opinion. However, they raise some interesting points and, as a movie critic (self proclaimed) I like to see what they have going on. Also, the girl they have in the background is really easy on the eyes. They invited me to a party last month that I couldn’t make and now I’m regretting it. The one thing I would say is I’d like to see them buy a couple couches. I find watching them debate while standing around like the are on a playground waiting to get picked for softball a little distracting. I think I would get more from them if the looked like they were relaxing a little, but that’s just me.
My cousin wants to see Tree of Life, so I might have to do a review for a serious movie soon. Meanwhile, I’ll watch another Harry Potter tonight and come up with some more really annoying questions.