Synopsis: In the action-comedy 30 Minutes or Less, Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a small town pizza delivery guy whose mundane life collides with the big plans of two wanna-be criminal masterminds (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson). The volatile duo kidnaps Nick and forces him to rob a bank. With mere hours to pull off the impossible task, Nick enlists the help of his ex-best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari). As the clock ticks, the two must deal with the police, hired assassins, flamethrowers, and their own tumultuous relationship.
Release Date: August 12, 2011 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Comedy, Action
In 30 Minutes or Less, Dwayne (Danny McBride from Your Highness) and Travis (Nick Swardson from “Nick Swardson’s Pretend Time”) are two wannabe thugs who want to make their dreams of owning their own business come true. The only thing standing in their way is Dwayne’s hard-nosed father, a lottery-winning ex-marine played by perennial bad-ass Fred Ward (Tremors, Escape from Alcatraz). In order to claim Dwayne’s inheritance, he and Travis hire a homeboy assassin named Chango (Michael Pena from Crash) to kill Dwayne’s father. The problem is that they need to come up with $100,000 in advance to pay him. Deciding that the only way to get that kind of money is to rob a bank, and being too afraid to do it themselves, Dwayne and Travis come up with a crazy plan to persuade someone else to do it by strapping a bomb to them. A pizza delivery boy named Nick (played by The Social Network‘s Jesse Eisenberg) is the perfect reluctant robber. After Nick is knocked out and the bomb is attached, he is told that he has ten hours to perform the bank robbery or the bomb will go off. To plan the heist, Nick enlists the help of his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari from T.V.’s “Parks and Recreation”), and the two of them set off to save Nick’s neck.
30 Minutes or Less is an action-comedy that is not very loaded with action or comedy. Based on a true story, Michael Diliberti’s screenplay is fun, original and has a few clever plot twists. Director Ruben Fleischer (who brought the world Zombieland) tries to bring out the humor in the script, but the story steers itself more towards the action side of the fence. The premise is captivating, but the film just isn’t funny enough to be considered a good comedy, and it isn’t exciting enough to be considered a good action movie. The action-comedy identity crisis leaves 30 Minutes or Less in limbo between the two genres.
The acting is the high point of 30 Minutes or Less. Eisenberg is best (as an Oscar Nominee should be in a movie like this) as the hapless but not helpless Nick. Ansari, McBride and Swardson are all great, as well. The chemistry between the two “teams” of actors adds to the individual performances. Eisenberg and Ansari have great interplay between the two of them, and McBride and Swardson create a believable tough guy-wimp dichotomy that most antagonist teams have. The only issue with the acting is the lack of any challenge or risk. Aside from Ward and Pena, who play stereotypical characters, the cast members seem like they are playing versions of themselves. The performances are believable because they seem like they’re not too much of a stretch from the actual actors’ personalities. Challenging roles or not, the ensemble cast in 30 Minutes or Less try their best to save a flat movie.
The action sequences in 30 Minutes or Less try to be exciting. They really do. The bank robbery scene builds to a nice level of tension, but it never pans out into real exhilaration. There’s also a neat little car chase, but it lacks the thrills of a genuine pursuit. The action scenes are built up nicely, but something gets lost in the execution. In the end, there’s just not enough adrenaline to seriously call 30 Minutes or Less an action film.
30 Minutes or Less doesn’t go for the dark comedy aspect that one would expect from a film with its storyline. Instead, most of the comedy is derived from simple, snippy little one-liners that are delivered by the cast. Some of the funnies are just witty throwaway lines (Chet telling one of the bank tellers after a dye pack explodes in a bundle of money that she’s given him — “I don’t trust you anymore, Sandra”) and some are smart inside jokes (Nick/Eisenberg saying he doesn’t check Facebook — “keeping off the grid”), but none of them are really side-splitting. The humor in 30 Minutes or Less is more chuckle-inducing than knee-slapping.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Ruben Fleischer
- Producer(s): Jeremy Kramer, Ben Stiller
- Screenwriter(s): Michael Diliberti
- Cast: Jesse Eisenberg (Nick), Danny McBride (Dwayne), Nick Swardson (Travis), Aziz Ansari (Chet), Michael Pena (Chango)
- Editor(s): Alan Baumgarten
- Cinematographer: Jess Hall
- Production Designer(s): Maher Ahmad
- Country Of Origin: USA, Germany