Notes from the Back Row 

Three worthy flicks

Raunch comedy is still Hollywood's go-to for summer laughs. So far Bridesmaids has made the biggest splash (and a shitload of cash) by custom-catering raunch to the female crowds. This week the dudes get a shot when 30 Minutes or Less opens Friday at the Whistler Village 8 and the Garibaldi 5 in Squamish.

Danny McBride ( Hot Rod, Pineapple Express) and Nick Swardson ( Blades of Glory) star as two losers with a get-rich-quick scheme that involves kidnapping a hapless pizza delivery guy (Jesse Eisenberg from Zombieland, The Social Network), strapping a bomb to him and forcing him to rob a bank in order to pay a hitman hired to kill McBride's rich father. Said pizza guy enlists the help of his ex-best friend (Aziz Ansari of 40-Year-Old-Virgin) and the dual-buddy-flick screwball comedy ensues.

30 Minutes or Less director Ruben Fleischer ( Zombieland ) doesn't take things as far or as into the dark as he could - much of the comedy feels a bit standard issue but there are definitely some good laughs to be had. And few actors working today can curse as artfully as Danny McBride - this one is certainly not for the easily offended.

There are no decent female roles at all (unless you count "the stripper" and "the hot sister") and the plot and story are utterly unbelievable, stupid almost (if it didn't turn out that the story mirrors a real case where the pizza delivery guy got blown up - something that the director said was news to him). I think that is why I like it - it's stupid done right. 30 Minutes or Less , at just 83 minutes long, is "high" comedy that really motors.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, The Help is a sentimental drama about three extraordinary women in 1960s Mississippi who band together over a secret writing project that tears down the social norms and builds up a brave new day. I think this one is based on a famous book or something but it looks like one of those feel-bad/feel-good racism stories in the same vein as The Blind Side , that football movie that earned Sandra Bullock her Oscar. The Help has no football but stars Emma Stone ( Superbad, Easy A) as the white girl who sides with the "help" (black maids and nannies who are generally treated worse than shit) to shake things up and get the times a changin' for the better.

The Help doesn't look too sappy though, which is always a danger with these kinds of films and I'm betting this is a perfect grandma and mom flick. It seems like a well-made, uplifting tale but it's also two hours and seventeen minutes long so buy the extra bag of M&Ms and keep a few napkins handy - this one has tearjerker potential.

Speaking of napkins, the Final Destination franchise is infamous for its deadly, gruesome death scenes and while there were no pre-screenings for Final Destination 5 it does have extra local appeal because the opening disaster scene features the collapse of Vancouver's Lions Gate Bridge.

The premise is nothing new - five survivors who cheated Fate/Death battle to survive while getting picked off one by one via incredibly elaborate death scenes. Aside from raising some philosophical questions about predetermination and the true value of life, Final Destination 5 is really little more than locally shot Death-Porn. Which is good enough really and this franchise is going strong. I generally label these flicks as rentals but who hasn't been kind of sketched out going over the Lions Gate Bridge (it's really old) so I'm for sure checking this out on the big screen. Real movie fans should drive to Vancouver and watch in 3D... then cross the Lions Gate on the way home.




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