30 Minutes or Less
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson
Running Time: 1 hr 22 mins
Release Date: August 12, 2011
PLOT: Two small-time criminals (McBride and Swardson) kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest, and tell him he has to rob a bank.
WHO’S IT FOR? It’s wacky comedy more than anything else. Loving McBride and Ansari will help, but not guarantee love for this little film.
EXPECTATIONS: None, just got done with a vacation in Vancouver where I experienced some amazing food. That was all I was thinking about.
Jesse Eisenberg as Nick: Nick is a slacker who is content being a pizza delivery guy. I think. I don’t actually know what he stands for, though I realize it’s now very difficult to see Eisenberg as anything besides his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg from The Social Network. Man, he was perfect in that role. There was one slight Facebook joke in this film. Eisenberg plays Nick pretty straight in this film, and he’s really the only actor doing so. It makes him stick out a little in 30 Minutes or Less and that’s not really a compliment.
Aziz Ansari as Chet: He’s barely acting, at least that’s how it feels. Ansari plays Chet as the comic relief, shaking his worried hands like a little kid needing to use the bathroom. That may sound insulting, but it’s not. It’s funny. I never believe him as the character Chet. When Nick has a bomb strapped to his chest, Chet is making tons of jokes while trying to look serious. It’s an odd combination made even odder by the fact that Ansari makes it work.
Danny McBride as Dwayne: It’s Kenny F-ing Powers. There is no difference between Dwayne and the character from HBO’s “Eastbound and Down.” None. Don’t you guys want something a little different? I did. The R rating mainly comes from McBride’s filthy mouth. If this was my first exposure to McBride it would have been better, but it mainly came of as stale, like a rerun. He’s excessively rude and that’s the only joke.
Nick Swardson as Travis: If Dwayne is Kenny Powers, then Travis is most definitely Steve from “Eastbound and Down.” He’s the sidekick who is never allowed to shine. This works better than McBride’s performance and it’s actually my favorite from Swardson. I feel like Swardson has been trying to prove to me he’s funny and now he finally has.
TALKING: It’s all shock and “oh my gosh what do we do?” There is the attempt to be as funny as possible in this serious situation. Before they strap the bomb to Nick it’s really just filler conversation that fails to enlighten us on the characters. It really could have been trimmed, but then again the movie is already really short. Whenever Chet is making fun of Nick, I enjoyed it for lines like, “You had a Lunchable for dinner,” proving Nick hasn’t grown up yet. There are a ton of movie references, which I understand is the way guys talk to each other, but it feels like they do this when they can’t think of anything else to say in this film.
SIGHTS: The look of the bomb would definitely make anyone a little nervous. The film looks a little cheap. There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s a small-scale film. This actually makes a car crash toward the end stand out., like, “Oh, they had that money in the budget? Cool.”
SOUNDS: “Tic tic tic boom,” Beastie Boys and “The Heat Is On” add to the pump up moments nicely here. Then, on the flip side a Matchbox Twenty song plays well getting a laugh at the lameness. Those guys have NOT aged well.
BEST SCENE: It’s stupid fun. Michael Peña brings something odd and funny as Chango. When he tries to get the money from Nick, and Chet jumps in to save the day, I was definitely enjoying myself, though I was never worried.
ENDING: Um, I feel like there are some unresolved issues. Like, shouldn’t Nick and Chet worry for the rest of their lives? The commercial at the end doesn’t get a laugh from me, and I don’t actually get the logic of it. But, if you loved McBride in this film, you’ll enjoy the very end of the film.
QUESTIONS: The bomb is real? Why? Why actually make it real? Also, the title on the screen reads 30: Minutes or Less. What the hell is that colon all about?
REWATCHABILITY: When it’s on cable, I would get sucked in for a little while before moving on.
It’s like the director told everyone in 30 Minutes or Less just to have silly fun and try to make people laugh. It’s like he told everyone except Eisenberg. It’s a fairly extreme situation, with a bomb and a bank robbery but I never once felt the intensity.
Ansari is funny, never believable, but funny. Swardson and Peña definitely get me to chuckle. The problem falls on McBride and Eisenberg. From McBride, I felt nothing new. Almost like I was watching a Thursday night sitcom crossover episode. With Eisenberg, I’m stuck seeing Zuckerberg for the moment. I know that won’t last, but I just never felt anything for him in this performance of a guy thrown into an extreme situation.
It’s a short film, yet the first 20 minutes go by and you wonder why you should care or what the motivation will be. 30 Minutes or Less goes by quick enough, but you won’t be left with anything that will make you feel satisfied.
FINAL SCORE: 5/10