30 Minutes or Less: I haven’t seen any of this week’s openers, but it seems pretty clear that the one to see is 30 Minutes or Less, because the success of Zombieland and The Social Network somehow convinced Sony that Jesse Eisenberg plus Aziz Ansari plus Danny McBride equals big-ticket summer fun and not, you know, a special on HBO or something. I mean, even if Sony is wrong, that’s still pretty great, on par with Paramount deciding that Hot Rod could cross over or Relativity allowing MacGruber to put Will Forte front and center in a big summer movie. 30 Minutes or Less looks less unhinged (more hinged?) than those movies, but it has the same kind of comedy/nerd appeal that seems less likely to hit it big than, say, The Change-Up.
But maybe I’m off base; The Change-Up kinda flopped last weekend, and when I saw the 30 Minutes or Less trailer in front of Bad Teacher with a paying audience a month or so ago, it absolutely killed. If they had sold tickets to that movie immediately following that trailer, I think they could’ve sold out an auditorium or two. Eisenberg plays an irresponsible pizza guy who turns to his best friend (Ansari) for help when bank robbers (McBride and Nick Swardson) strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank. Sounds more harrowing than hilarious, but then, generally so do zombie attacks, and Ruben Fleischer did a nice job turning that into a brisk 80-minute comedy. 30 Minutes or Less apparently runs 83, with credits.
The Help: The newest installment of one of Hollywood’s favorite franchises, Hero Whites! I haven’t seen The Help, so I can’t comment on whether it fulfills that stereotype of the black experience as seen through the eyes of kindhearted white people, but I do know that it runs almost two and a half hours, which seems a little lengthy for something I feel like I’ve basically seen from watching the trailers. Still, Emma Stone is adorable and hilarious and Viola Davis is pretty much always fantastic, so maybe I can overlook the fact that Bryce Dallas Howard went from amazingly promising actor (giving an excellent performance in the middle of The Village) to the kind of cartoonish shrews Marcia Gay Harden usually has to play, in the space of less than a decade. I guess those are some white-people problems right there.
Final Destination 5: I was on board with the Final Destination series for the first three entries, which alternated between X-Files genre nerds Morgan & Wong and second-unit director extraordinaire/Snakes on a Plane auteur David Ellis, both proficient and often playful B-movie teams (collectively responsible for the Willard remake, The One, and Cellular—fun stuff, all). But Ellis, again handed the baton for the unnumbered part four, kind of muffed the seemingly easy gig, even with the 3-D gimmick at his (body?) disposal. The Final Destination felt like a clunky remake of the movies it followed—but the series’ following and jacked-up 3-D prices helped it reach a peak gross. Now the fifth entry comes without Morgan, Wong, or Ellis; James Cameron second-unit guy Steven Quale gets his shot, as second-unit guys often do on low-stakes horror franchises. I can only hope the movie has a little of the doomy, well-choroegraphed polish of the first trilogy and not the direct-to-DVD-level acting of the fifth. Apparently the trick screenwriter and series newcomer Eric Heisserer thought up was bringing back Tony Todd’s character from the first two movies. I guess the ghost of Ali Larter wasn’t deemed feasible enough.
Glee the 3D Concert Movie: I am a little confused about what this movie is but I am loathe to look anything up about it. This is a concert movie of the tour a bunch of Glee actors did, only the ads make it look like they also do in-character bits behind the scenes. I guess that would be fun if you were any kind of Glee fan, but going backstage and making the actors pretend to be their Glee characters performing for some kind of a big crowd for some reason seems kind of trying, basically the Fox employee equivalent of having to do skits at the company sales meeting. Or maybe the whole touring show is done in character, like it’s a Disney on Ice type of thing? Finally, can someone tell me what is up with the tiny kid in the ads dressed up like he’s on Glee? Is it really something that four-year-olds like? Hurry up and come back, Muppets! Four-year-olds need better things to like!