The not so smart Dwayne intends to open a massage parlor with his partner Travis, but he does not have money for the investment. He decides to hire a hit-man to kill his father, The Major, who won a large amount of money in the lottery years ago, but the killer demands US$ 100,000 for the job. Dwayne and Travis kidnap the pizza delivery boy Nick and they dress Nick in a vest with a timer and several bombs. Then Dwayne tells Nick that he has ten hours to rob US$ 100,000 from a bank. Once he does, he would give Nick the code to release the vest. Nick summons his best friend Chet to help him in the heist but the scheme does not work the way Dwayne has plotted. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
There are plenty of bad puns to be had with the title of this movie, but the cheesiest and most appropriate I can offer after watching it is "83 Minutes Long and Still a Mess." In the age of the three-hour comedy, I thought it would be a relief to watch a laugher with a tighter belt. Unfortunately, even with the fast title, Less dragged on much longer than I wished it to.
Less seems like a half-a**ed debacle, where everyone including the Captain jumped ship when they felt the movie sinking. The direction, if you can call it that, was done by Ruben Fleischer, who couldn't have possibly given his maximum effort on this film. His recent film success was directing the 2009 film Zombieland, which was a taut and intriguing comedy. Zombieland had a less original premise than Less, but consistently provided laughter and a few tense action sequences. Less similarly attempts to combine action and comedy, but provides an extremely flat and jumbled film.
The writing is slovenly. There are cheap laughs aplenty, and even a few good belly-busters, but laughter is inevitable when you try and force a joke every single line of the movie. My question is, why did the writers, and director for that matter, keep the crap that didn't stick to the wall? Watching Less felt like watching a movie shot in one take before it hits the editing room; so many intended jokes fall flat and fail to register. Even lazier than the joke writing is the character writing. Of course Less is a comedy, and an intentionally stupid one at that. Viewers shouldn't go in expecting to see detailed character development a la Mad Men; I certainly didn't. But the characters in Less change personalities and character traits on a whim and at an alarming rate.
In the movie's first scene, we see Jesse Eisenberg's character Nick, calmly and deliberately con two teenagers out of 40 dollars. But, after the first ten minutes of the movie, even before he gets the bomb/plot device strapped on his chest (which admittedly would make anyone change their disposition), he turns into a manic motormouth. The most offensive and unexplained character shift is that of the amateur criminal Travis, played by Nick Swardson (who in a side note needs to find a new agent after agreeing to star in the upcoming guaranteed bomb Bucky Larson. Find the trailer if you haven't seen it already; I almost clawed my eyes out in the theater seeing it before Less). Travis starts out as a complete imbecile, seemingly unable to think independently. Then, throughout the movie, Travis tries on about three or four different personalities before Swardson gives up altogether. And with writing that uneven, who could blame him?
Aziz Ansari predictably throws down the best performance in Less, and not simply by default. Unlike his stand-up comedy, which is a consistently high-pitched freight train of energy, Ansari is able to give his Chet character a dynamism I didn't expect from him. Sure, there are plenty of squeaky outbursts, but he knows that the outburst seems louder and more hilarious if there is a calm before the detonation. Ansari is the only actor relishing the gags, but unfortunately is fed plenty of misfired jokes by the writers as well. Danny McBride, deservedly renowned for his Kenny Powers character on HBO's Eastbound and Down, seems content to cash the paycheck and move on. He plays Dwayne, a much less funny Powers reprise, whose bumbling criminal character the writers mistakenly believe we care about. They inexplicably allow the movie to take a plot turn into his domain, yet the audience could care less what fate awaits him.
Good comedy shouldn't be as strenuous a venture as it is watching 30 Minutes or Less. Luckily, we all live in the internet age, and while I no longer have this option, you can save your ticket money and watch Aziz Ansari stand-up videos on YouTube instead.
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