The minute I figured out exactly where "30 Minutes or Less" was coming from, it sickened me a little.
The movie is about two pairs of dimwits. One is a couple of spoiled, worthless, antisocial rich guys who like to blow stuff up. The other is a pizza delivery boy and his best friend, a schoolteacher. The teacher has a beautiful twin sister the pizza boy loves.
The teacher and his sister are from India. The movie thinks it's funny when a moronic member of Jerk Team 1 derisively calls the beautiful young woman "Slumdog."
If you have any real background in movies at all as opposed to a background in Internet snark , you know what you're watching in "30 Minutes or Less" -- a 2011 version of 1930s and '40s slapstick where a frantic, fast-talking white guy is able to abuse an even more frantic and fearful dark-skin fellow with impunity because they're both in constantly extreme situations.
Bob Hope was good at doing the desperate, fast-talking white guy once upon a time. The great comic actors in the fear-mongering dark-skin roles used to be Stepin Fetchit and Willie Best Mantan Moreland did it for the glacially composed Charlie Chan .
In retrospect, those movies were appalling as much because of the sky-high level of the talent involved as anything else the eternal tragedy of Fetchit, Best and Moreland and so many others is how comically gifted they all were in invidious roles .
So here's the 21st century jackass slapstick version of that.
Jesse Eisenberg is the fast-talking fearful white guy, the pizza delivery boy who has dynamite strapped to his chest and is told to rob a bank. Aziz Ansari TV's "Parks and Recreation" is his best friend from India and Dilshad Vadsaria is his friend's beautiful twin sister.
Frantic, sweaty, rocket-tempoed "comedy" ensues. A small fraction of it is funny. The rest of it is just sweaty.
Fred Ward is mostly misused as the father of one of the idiots in Jerk Team 1 -- the rich one they're trying to raise money to bump off.
Ward is the oldest member of the cast which, ipso facto, makes him a very mean SOB whom the audience would like to see dead along with his idiot son. (So contemptuous is this movie of anything resembling adult human values that his fate at the end is vicious but not explicitly clear. It was obviously assumed no one in the audience would give a fig. Once you use the epithet "slumdog" for cheap audience laughs, you're not really in the human being business anymore, but the "comedy" box office exploitation business.)
I went to see this movie because director Ruben Fleischer got a lot of mileage out of his black comedy "Zombieland" and I wanted to see what he would do with a rocket-tongued actor as virtuosic as young Eisenberg, he of the Oscar nomination for "The Social Network."
The answer to my question is a resounding "nothing much."
There are a few laughs in the movie despite the 83-minute desperation of the search for them. The movie is arrested at the sniggering 12-year-old stage of thinking that every antisocial or insensitive utterance is funny, whether ugly or genuinely rebellious.
It is ignorance -- that innocent quality we all possess -- that has graduated all the way up to genuine stupidity.
Ignorance is happenstance. We're all unacquainted with thousands of things. Stupidity is the next moral step: the will to remain ignorant forever, out of preference.
Which seems to describe everyone involved in the script for "30 Minutes" etc. to a T.
People will laugh. God knows they did at the screening.
Money will be made. Dynamite will go off. And, to steal an old line from Walter Winchell that the creators of this movie will undoubtedly appreciate, none of it underneath the right people.
> 30 MINUTES OR LESS
Review: 2 1/2 stars (Out of 4 )
STARRING: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Dilshad Vadsaria, Danny McBride
DIRECTOR: Ruben Fleischer
RUNNING TIME: 83 minutes
RATING: R for language and nonstop crudity
THE LOWDOWN: Two dimwits strap dynamite on a numbskull delivery boy and force him to rob a bank with his buffooning friend.