Letters

Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

Home · Articles · News · News · 30 Minutes or Less
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30 Minutes or Less

None - August 19th, 2011  

I should do a little more research, but I think “30 Minutes or Less” is the first R-rated slacker comedy based on a true recent story in which a man was blown up by a bomb strapped around his neck. You may recall the 2003 case of a pizza delivery man who dreamed up a scheme to rob a bank with the bomb strapped on. He thought it was a fake bomb, but his treacherous partners doublecrossed him.

Now here is a movie about a guy who drives for a Grand Rapids pizzeria that promises your pizza in 30 minutes or less. That, of course, establishes him as a breakneck stunt driver, which will be useful in the inevitable chase scene. The driver, named Nick, is played by Jesse Eisenberg, in an unfortunate career move after “The Social Network.” He was so good in that film that it is impossible to believe him as a character as dumb as Nick. Try to imagine George Clooney, Ben Kingsley and John Malkovich playing the Three Stooges.

His best buddy is Chet (Aziz Ansari), who goes ballistic when he discovers Nick has slept with his beautiful twin sister, Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria). That causes complications when Nick turns to Chet in desperation with a bomb strapped to his chest.

How did this happen? We meet two slacker layabouts, Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson). Hapless, luckless and witless, they make 10 bucks an hour cleaning the pool of Dwayne’s father (Fred Ward). One night during a lap dance Dwayne mentions his dad is a lottery winner. Juicy (Bianca Kajlich), the dancer, promises that Dwayne’s lap need never be untenanted again if he steals a million from his dad. She even suggests a hit man from Detroit: Chango (Michael Pena).

Their brainstorm: Order a pizza, strap a bomb to the guy, and have him rob a bank to get them the money to pay the hit man, who will then kill the lottery-winning dad. Need I explain that everyone involved in this plot is stupid enough to go along with it?

The time bomb deadline ramps up the urgency and leads to great desperation. The movie’s strategic error is to set the deadline too far in the future. There is something annoying about a comedy where a guy is strapped to a bomb and nevertheless has time to spare for off-topic shouting matches with his best buddy. A buddy comedy loses some of its charm in a situation like that.

Certain moments in the film elicit mechanical laughs. The chase is well-staged, but then staging a good chase, in this era of CGI, is becoming routine. Eisenberg is a good actor, which may be why he’s wrong for this. The tension over his buddy’s sister feels contrived, and only one line is devoted to the intriguing implications that she’s a twin sister.

Oh, and the only purpose of the sister, Kate, is to be beautiful. She is plugged into the plot, used to establish her existence and dropped. If she had been more involved, that might have been an improvement -- or might have shown up the plot’s shaky contrivance. Better to devote more screen time to the lap dancer, right? If you occupy the demographic this film is aimed at, Hollywood doesn’t have a very high opinion of you. Rating: Two stars.

 
  • Currently 3.5/5 Stars.
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