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.
The Social Network: Pretty much everyone with an internet connection has a Facebook page, so here’s the story of how the site came around. The film starts off at 100mph – setting the scene at Harvard; the socialites and outcasts – but it gradually slows to a crawl throughout the remainder of the film, as it gets bogged down with cross-examinations, lawyer oneupmanship, and fairly boring intellectual property debates – in this area, I’ll take The Good Wife any day. Eduardo (Andrew Garfield) is totally standout here, giving a great performance and setting pretty high expectations for anything else he’ll do. The Winkelvii were well-played and brilliantly done (one guy CGI’d). Eisenberg‘s good at walking the tightrope between likeable and loathable, and Timberlake is more of an effeminate pansy cameo than anything else. The scripts pretty tight and razor-sharp for such a wordy affair; there’s also a lot of really deadpan/witty humour throughout – more than the film’s been given credit for. There’s some pretty good moral undertones about power, money, popularity and the whole ‘social networking’ aspect being carved out and placed online. While it is well done, and it contains classic story elements like betrayal, pathos and all the things that should make a story good – the subject matter just isn’t as gripping a story like Zodiac – there’s only so much drama you can pump into the story of Harvard guys arguing over the theft of an idea. Good film, but doesn’t really grab you by the balls.