By Gary Dean Murray


Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Michael Pena and Fred Ward


Written by Michael Diliberti (with Mathew Sullivan on Story)


Directed by Ruben Fleisher


Running time 83 min


MPAA Rating R


Selig Film Rating Matinee


I always get Jesse Eisenberg and Michael Cera confused for one-another.  They seem to have similar styles of acting and do the same basic character, the kind of nerdy guy who is over his head.  With the new 30 Minutes or Less, not much changes. 


Jesse stars as Nick who is a pizza delivery guy working at a ‘30 minutes or it’s free’ joint.  He is just another slacker with an old Mustang and little desire to do anything with his life.  His best buddy is Chet (Aziz Ansari) who is also the guy who helped destroy Nick’s life.  Nick also has a thing for Chet’s sister Kate.


On the other side of the plot Dwayne (Danny McBride) is a jealous man-boy.  His father (seldom used Fred Ward) is a former marine and lotto winner who considers his son a waste of space.  A local stripper plants an idea in Dwayne’s brain.  If he gets someone to kill his father, he will inherit the money.  She knows a contract killer (Michael Pena) who will do it for $100,000. The problem is how to get the cash to pay the killer.  He and his partner Travis (Nick Swardson) come up with a plan.


Nick delivers a pizza to a scrap yard and is attacked by our bad guys in monkey masks.  When Nick wakes up, he finds an explosive vest around his chest.  In order to get the vest off, he must go to the local bank and rob it for $100,000.  The vest will explode in 10 hours. 


The film becomes a race to figure out how to rob a bank.  With Chet in tow, they make plans to commit the crime while our real criminals watch his every move.  In so many ways it reflects those action comedies from the 1980’s where some funny scene would follow a bit of action.


Out of the four leads Aziz Ansari delivers the most comic punch.  The actor is most known for his Parks & Recreation role plays much of the same character here, but without all the flash.  His comic timing is perfect and he delivers each line with glee.  Nick Swardson is another comic actor who steps up to the plate and knocks it out of the park.  He gives Travis a naive charm while still being a fully developed slightly bad guy.  His next project looks like a major comic step in his career.


The two leads Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride didn’t fare as well.  Jesse is playing that same character he has done in most of his movies, but without the charm.  It is as if his The Social Network persona has seeped into his acting range and infected the good will one expects from these characters.  Danny McBride shows almost no redeeming grace with Dwayne.  The more you watch him, the more you realize that the father character is right—the guy is a loser.  Even his grand scheme to make money (which is the ending tag) has such wrongness to the entire enterprise.


Ruben Fleisher made Zombieland, one of the freshest and most original comedies of that year.  Here is seems to be treading water.  While some of the jokes are screamingly funny the narrative whole doesn’t mesh together in a cohesive fashion. 


30 Minutes or Less is a fun little ride through dark streets.  It is not so much a movie as it is a ride—fun to be on but not much to think about once you’re done.

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