Saturday, August 13, 2011

30 Minutes or Less...Jesse Eisenberg's star-turn can't save flick! Heaploads of laughs, though!

Jesse Eisenberg has been making the rounds of the talk-show circuit to promote his just-released dark comedy "30 Minutes or Less".
Eisenberg has nothing to be ashamed about in what amounts to a star-turn for the talented young actor.

The charismatic hottie of last year's pot-boiler - "The Social Network" - has fleshed out a lovable engaging character in an authentic performance that speaks volumes about the young man and his dedication to his craft.

And, that face!

Well, it mesmerizes, and - at times - literally takes the breath away.

Every expression that ripples across it - whether it be a quirky grimace or blank-eyed stare - is a joy to behold as it bubbles up "spontaneously" from beneath the surface and impacts the audience below the footlights.

Unfortunately, the fast-paced adrenalin-rush-of-a-film is uneven and flawed in many respects.

When the credits roll at the top of the big-budget feature a nod to producer Ben Stiller should be a tip-off to astute film buffs.


Undoubtedly, the scripted plot is bound to be padded with a heavy dose (!) of blue material, low-brow toilet humor, juvenile sight-gags, and what-have-you.

That's Stiller's stock in trade, after all.

In this instant case, the creative team went over-the-top once-too-often - and subsequently - the sloppy filmmaking dragged the project down.

For example, a few mean-spirited - highly-inflammatory jabs at stereotypes ("beans", "fags", "bitches") - were inclined to trigger stunned silence and not the anticipated guffaws.

Some of the dialogue is too graphic (and unnecessary in my estimation).

I found a joke about HIV and the killer virus particularly distasteful.

At one point, when the main character (played by Eisenberg) approaches his vehicle (a beat-up old mustang which is a sight for sorry eyes) his best friend (who plays a teacher surprisingly) takes a poke at his run-down set-of-wheels.

"It looks like you bought your Mustang and then it caught A.I.D.S."


In a word?


A word to the producers:

Jokes about HIV and the advanced stages of the deadly disease will never be (nor should they ever be) a laughing matter!

At this juncture, I heartily suggest that the studio donate a percentage of the profits of the film to an A.I.D.S. Organization (once the balance sheets are tallied) to compensate the sick and the dying for their thoughtless mean-spirited comments which perpetuate negative images about a global epidemic that has reaching alarming epic proportions.

Attempts by the director (Zombieland) to blend violence with comedy for dramatic failed miserably, too.

Tarantino doesn't have to look over his shoulder, that's for sure!

Without a master at the helm, the attempts at dark comedy faltered (embarrassingly so) - and ultimately - ended up jarring filmgoers sensibilities in fact.

However, that aside, I would be remiss if I did not report that there is a lot of rollicking good humor in the flick (thus confirming that the low-blow tasteless material wasn't necessary to sell tickets at the box office) and that - for the most part - "30 Minutes or Less" is quite an entertaining popcorn film worth checking out.


It's a dark comedy - with wicked twists and turns - that will keep you roaring on the edge of your seat (once you edit out the boring parts as Alfred Hitchcock would drolly quip in his eerily queer way) for about an hour-and-a-half.

"30 Seconds or Less" is a great way to duck the sizzling hot heat wave in the afternoon.

But,  in view of the raunchy one-liners, may not be appropriate on date night.

2 1/2 Stars!

See 'ya at the movies, eh?


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