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.
When a movie comes up with a title first -- as Pineapple Express director David Gordon Green has publicly admitted about Your Highness -- one has to question its quality. (After all, isn't that how Black Knight was made?) But as it turns out, with this the cast and crew, what could have been a paint-by-numbers medieval comedy turns out to be a hilariously vulgar homage to clichéd hero's quest movies.
Obviously, no one's dying to see Underworld: Rise of Lycans. I'm not saying that anyone is. I'm just saying that if maybe you've seen everything that's out already and come next Friday night you're thinking, "Hey, I don't mind spending 12 bucks to see some vampires and werewolves fight," the way I see it there are a lot of reasons to be dissuaded. Nine, to be exact.