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Homeland: eight years after going MIA a U.S. marine is rescued and taken home, but a C.I.A. agent suspects he may be a terrorist. Overall the scope of the plot feels like it would be a side-story in 24, maybe spanning 6 episodes – Homeland is stretched over 12 full episodes ‘beefed up’ with small, pointless stories – some of which aren’t resolved, or even mentioned again (internal investigation / Saul’s potential involvement / Saul’s wife). My biggest problem was the very slow-moving is he / isn’t he story, it gets quite monotonous after several episodes, and once you know what side he’s on, it kills the show flat. Both central characters are extremely complex – Danes struggles to convince with some horrific eye-bulding and body/movement over acting. Lewis is good, but doesn’t quite have the full chops to convey the inner conflicts and troubles of the character. The daughter (Saylor) and Saul (Patinkin) were the two best actors. In the end, I cared just enough to watch the finalé, which was undoubtedly the best and most fresh / original part of the series, 60 minutes of killer, 30 more minutes of wrap-up ‘meh’. I can appreciate how this would go down more favourably in the USA (it’s current, it’s political, it hits a lot of nerves) but for me, Homeland feels like it’s just filling a ‘post-24 American domestic terrorist drama’ gap, and not much more.

Score: 5.5/10

30 Minutes or Less: two lazy rednecks kidnap a pizza delivery guy, strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank. There are plenty laughs here, but several unnecessary handicaps for a comedy film: the central character is a negative-Nancy and continually craps all over the knockabout tone of the film; some of the stuff is pretty grim (family murder/kidnap/bomb-vests) but related jokes are all played like is was a standard upbeat comedy; finally, it’s such a stupid, stupid story – especially when the hitman & strippers are added – that you lose interest. Both hicks were funny, McBride is token McBride and Swardson is a solid partner for him. The dialogue didn’t feel quick / smart / dry / sarcastic / scathing enough for Eisenberg‘s brand of humour, making it easy for Ansari to really shine as the comedy highlight. It’s a textbook example of when a trailer features and ruins all of the best gags. The story would have made a fantastic black comedy or screwball (given the number of ridiculous plot developments) but by playing it safe just leaves the film feeling messy and all over the place. Still, it’s entertaining and quite funny, but the silliness means it’s mostly forgettable; definitely sub-Zombieland.

Score: 6.5/10