If there's one thing I hate about the current state of film criticism, it's that so many critics (mostly online) view movies through a cracked lens of jaded cynicism and detached boredom that it makes me wonder whether they even enjoy the world of film to begin with. Specifically, there's a word that drives me insane and since it's birth it has become the nadir of intelligent discourse and critical thinking. A word that says to the world that you're too indifferent to actually put words together to form sentences and create an intelligent critique of something you observed.What could this word be you probably aren't asking? The word is "meh" and it hates us all. Urban Dictionary defines "meh" as "when one simply does not care," and I fail to understand how any art (whether it's van Gogh or Vin Diesel) cannot extract something more from us than the absence of opinion. The word wants us to become detached from thinking deeply about topics like art, politics and religion. It soothes us into a state of apathetic snobbery we may never escape from. But if you were to ask me what I thought about 30 Minutes or Less, all I can think to say is meh.
I don't know how to rationalize my use of it without seeming hypocritical, but I think all the usual standards apply when it comes to proper usage and my not caring. It is a movie that was made and exists, but why? Jessie Eisenberg, fresh off his critically acclaimed performance in The Social Network, plays a pizza boy who reminds me exactly of Mark Zuckerberg. Danny McBride plays the same kind of prick he plays on Eastbound and Down and Land of the Lost, but this time he's a crook who straps a bomb to the pizza boy's chest and tells him to rob a bank with his equally inept friend, played by Aziz Ansari. Every bit of character or plot development feels so slight that the entire movie just feels... unimportant. It's all so very, very meh.
It's a film that didn't offend me or bore me and it made me laugh a few times with Michael Pena giving one of the best comedic performances of the year. But most of the jokes just lay there, waiting for you to laugh, but you don't and then everything's all awkward and uncomfortable as you both try to avoid making eye contact. Every bit of good in this film is complemented by a smidge of bad, so it all cancels each other out and leaves you with something akin to glazed apathy. I hate using a verbal shrug of the shoulders to describe this movie, but I think I understand now: sometimes words are best saved for things that deserve it and, with 30 Minutes or Less, I think it's best if we all just moved on.
30 Minutes or Less
Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Michael Pena and Fred Ward
Directed by Ruben Fleischer