Friday, 30 November 2012

Thirty Minutes or Less; would have made a better run-time than a title

I wasn't going to say anything about Thirty Minutes or Less which I watched half heartedly last night hoping it would as much fun as Zombieland, or after a while, as much fun as Tower Heist, and after a little longer, as much fun as that time I had to get my head sewn up after a concussion. Then it was over, which was one of its better bits; say this much for Thirty Minutes or Less, say that at least it doesn't last too long. It was only this morning, as I mulled over all the better things I might have done with the time, that it struck me that it was yet another one of those movies which had tiresomely crammed about twenty minutes of ideas into more than an hour of flailing, and that if they had brought it in at thirty actual minutes or less, it would have made a perfectly good pilot for a show no-one was ever going to want to see any more of.

The plot has about four moving parts; two losers decide to murder the dominant loser's dad for his lottery winnings, and to finance the hire of a hit man for that, they coerce another loser into robbing a bank for them. They do the coercion by strapping a bomb vest to a pizza delivery guy. Amazingly, that's the more direct plan; the first draft had them setting up a porno movie so that they could blackmail some random husband into robbing a bank. I know what you're thinking; if you can assemble a remote controlled bomb vest, don't you already have most of what you need to bypass the need for a hit-man? There you go again, bringing a brain to a dumb-fight.

Anyhow, that's the whole thing, pretty much; coerce the schlub to rob the bank, and then watch as everything comes unstuck. At that point, they seem to have completely forgotten the title, and the pizza guy gets ten whole hours to rob the bank. Trying to rob a bank from scratch in Thirty Minutes or Less could have been frenetic and silly and genuinely exciting; taking the whole damn day over it means we have to spend the day in the company of our cast of losers, not one of whom comes close to being proverbially loveable. Even eighty minutes of them was probably too long. There has to be someone in every movie you want to see more of. Either the villain is larger than life and hamming it up like the dickens, or the hero's a scrappy outsider who deserves a break, but there has to be someone for you to root for. Problem is that the villains are moronic dicks, too stupid to be masterminds and not magnificently silly enough to be fun to watch (best idiot villains of all time? I'd start my list with the Wet Bandits from Home Alone, which for bonus points also had one of the most fun snarky heroes. Not haute couture, I know). Fine, fine, you grumble, root for the heroes. Can't; they're whining nobodies. Though they don't have to be; the pizza guy begins and ends the movie with moments of sneaky everyman cleverness, so it's a real mystery how his brain goes on holidays for the rest of the movie. 

I read the other day that Rowan Atkinson believes that if everyone is having fun on the set, no-one will have any fun in the theatre, and if that's a general truth, then the whole cast and crew must have had a hell of a good time making Thirty Minutes or Less.

No comments: