I was going to quote what reviewers were saying. I'd have given you quotes from Dana Slate, from Stephen Whitty, Richard Corliss, Ann Hornaday and Claudia Puig. But I'm tired of reading what they have to say.
Go here if you want to: http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/30_minutes_or_less/reviews/?type=top_criticsweeblylink_new_window
Why all the hate for 30: MInutes or Less?
Because critics are judging it as a film. And it's not. Not really.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Jesse Eisenberg: Jesse Eisenberg
Danny McBride: Danny McBride
Aziz Ansari: Aziz Ansari
Nick Swardson: Nick Swardson
Chongo: Michael Pena
The Major: Frank Ward
If you judge 30: Minutes or Less as a movie the Rotten Tomatoes score shows you're more than 50% likely to be unhappy (it's critic score is 45%).
"But it's a movie, how else can you judge it?"
Look at the cast: Danny McBride (comedian), Aziz Ansari (comedian), Nick Swardson (comedian) and Jesse Eisenberg (actor).
75% of the main characters are comedians.
"But Adam Sandler is a comedian and he makes movies."
Critics are complaining that the characters are ridiculous, the relationships under-developed, that it's totally lacking female perspective or concern (chauvinistic then).
But is it funny?
To me, a film like this is all about the laughs. Do the jokes work?
The last thing I'm asking myself is: is the plot structurally sound?"
Or: "Do I empathize?"
Or: "Am I rooting for the good guys?"
Screw all that critical stuff.
I see a movie like 30: Minutes or Less because I think Jesse Eisenberg's neurosis is funny, because Aziz is dead-pan and hilarious, because Swardson is the man, because McBride says crazy shit in a unique way (like a bad-ass Dane Cook (someone may kill me for comparing Danny to Dane)).
In the Rise of the Planet of the Apes inquiry (see hypertext), I described a Personality Ratio for actors and actresses. They are X-% Character and Y-% Actor's personality. Example: in Milk Sean Penn is, like, 100%-Character (Harvey Milk) and 0%-Sean Penn. In Maid in Manhattan Jennifer Lopez is like 85%-J-Lo and 15% maid.
McBride is like 95% Mcbride. Aziz about 90% Aziz. Swardson is mostly Swardson. And Eisenberg we'll say is 60% Jesse.
What's this mean? That you're basically seeing these comedians do their thing. If you think Danny McBride's humor is offensive, you will be offended.
I'm not saying a lack of plot, empathy and stakes is a good thing. That the director and writers couldn't have done a better job sculpting a legit movie (like Hot Fuzz).
But you can't say a blackberry is bad because it doesn't taste like an apple.
30: Minutes or Less is what it is. It's not a Friday evening out on Broadway. It's not Harold & Kumar Go to White Castle. It's not Friends. I believe you have to judge a movie on what it's attempting to do. And all I see 30 trying for is to give the actors opportunities for their fans to enjoy what they do. And to make new fans. Or enemies.
Did I like it?
Yeah. I like Eisenberg. I like McBride. And I like Swardson. I laughed almost the entire time (but never roared). My friend enjoyed it too.
Prior to this film, I was not a fan of Aziz. He annoyed me in Funny People (and I've never watched Parks and Recreation). But he won me over.
I wouldn't recommend this if you have zero sense of humor, or you're easily offended, or you know Brian Wells (if that's the case, this is probably an affront).
My favorite part was when Danny and Nick are rocking gorilla masks.
I thought the trailers were solid too. Especially Statham's Killer Elite. (Update 3/30/12: in retrospect, that Killer Elite comment really makes me sad).
What It's Good For:
-if you're a fan of any of the people involved in this movie
-Brian Wells is someone who had a bomb strapped to him and was made to rob a bank but the bomb exploded. In real life. And now the plot is a comedy.
-not the best plot
-if you don't like the comedy of any of the actors, this film isn't for you
% Character / % Actor's personality
Eisenberg: Social Network, Adventure Land, Zombieland
McBride: Eastbound and Down, Your Highness
Swardson: Grandma's Boy, Comedy Central Presents, NS's Pretend Time
Aziz: Intimate Moments for a Sensual Evening (comedy special)
Personality Ratio: http://modigmovie.weebly.com/1/post/2011/8/inquiry-19-rise-of-the-planet-of-the-apes-and-james-francos-acting.html
Brian Wells: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brian_Douglas_Wells
Statham: Crank, [Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels], Snatch