Eddie Murphy was already a successful stand-up comic and a breakout performer on the ensemble TV series Saturday Night Live when he co-starred in the 1982 action comedy 48 Hrs. opposite Nick Nolte. But it was his performance in that movie -- specifically that iconic scene when he humiliates a bar full of rednecks -- that turned him into a superstar. Almost thirty years later, the new action comedy 30 Minutes or Less is poised to do the same thing for another rising comic talent, Aziz Ansari, who also currently enjoys a strong stand-up career and a standout role on the ensemble NBC comedy Parks and Recreation. Now just to be clear, I'm not suggesting that Ansari will necessarily attain the same level of power that his predecessor enjoyed back in the day (contemporary Hollywood is a completely different animal than the '80s version, particularly for actors) or even that he's the 21st century version of Eddie Murphy (while there are some similarities between the two, Ansari would never be as raw as Murphy was in his famous concert film, Raw). But, much like 48 Hrs., 30 Minutes or Less is most certainly the vehicle that will firmly embed Ansari in mainstream moviedom. His live-wire energy is the thing keeps this funny, but often ramshackle film on track; whenever he's onscreen, your eyes are immediately drawn to him because you're never quite certain what he's going to do or say next.
Put Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari in a room together and you're guaranteed to have a good time. Add in Jesse Eisenberg, Nick Swardson and Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer and you've got a real party going on. All five guys shared the stage in a Manhattan hotel recently for a press conference about their new film 30 Minutes or Less, which casts Eisenberg as a pizza delivery guy who is forced to rob a bank with an assist from best bud Ansari. McBride and Swardson play the dangerous knuckleheads that force the pair to pull off this heist. Just as Zombieland referenced every zombie movie ever made from Night of the Living Dead to 28 Days Later, Fleischer builds riffs on vintage action movies like Beverly Hills Cop, Die Hard and Heat into his own buddy heist flick/comedy of errors. Here are some selected highlights from the conference for the film, which opens in theaters on August 12.
Meta is the new black. How else do you explain the runaway success of 30 Rock, which stars Tina Fey and Tracy Morgan as the writer and star of a variety show? Or Jean-Claude Van Damme playing a down-and-out version of himself in JCVD? Or Paul Giamatti playing a jaded actor named Paul Giamatti in the movie Cold Souls? You can't, can you? Well, director Judd Apatow has harnessed the power of meta for his own ends in Funny People, and thanks to an amazing supporting cast and liberal use of the word "cock," he seems to have opened some sort of bizarre rift in space and time and made Adam Sandler funny again.