Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Produced by Stuart Cornfeld and Ben Stiller
Screenplay by Michael Diliberti
Based on a story by Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan
The R-rated comedy has been making a comeback in recent years and some of them have been quite notable such as “Tropic Thunder” “The Hangover” “Next Day Air” “The Wedding Crashers” “Superbad” “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” “Pineapple Express” and “Horrible Bosses” All of which I’ve seen and all of which I recommend you watch before 30 MINUTES OR LESS.
Not that it’s really all that bad a movie. The plot actually is one that provides plenty of material for either comedy or suspense. Two adult delinquents, Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) need $100,000 dollars to hire a hit man to kill Dwayne’s dad (Fred Ward) who hit the lottery for $10 million bucks. Dwayne’s dream is to open up a tanning salon/whorehouse and he’s afraid his dad is going to burn through the whole $10 mil before he drops dead.
The two get an idea; get hold of some innocent guy and strap a bomb to his chest and send him to rob a bank. If he doesn’t do it or gets caught, they’ll blow him up. The innocent they pick is Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) a pizza delivery guy who just cannot get the hang of the “30 Minutes or Less or It’s Free” policy. Dwayne and Travis call him up to deliver a pizza to them. When Nick arrives he’s jumped and knocked out by the gorilla mask wearing duo. When Nick wakes up he’s wearing a vest rigged with explosives buckled to his torso. He can’t take it off without it blowing up. He’s given ten hours to rob a bank or ka-boom.
Right then and there, they lost me. In ten hours even a moron could figure out a way how to get out of that situation. And considering that the movie is titled 30 MINUTES OR LESS I figured that in a bit of sadistic cruelty, Dwayne and Travis would give Nick just 30 minutes or less to rob the bank. That would have made for a tighter, more intensive plot. But with ten hours to kill, it gives the screenwriters time to bring in unnecessary characters and scenes that have nothing to do with the story and seem inserted into the movie just to get that R rating.
Jesse Eisenberg is actually quite funny at times and the biggest laugh he got out of me is when his girlfriend asks him a question about Facebook. He has good chemistry with Aziz Ansari who plays his best friend Chet who helps him rob the bank. They have some scenes together that are pretty funny and I wouldn’t mind seeing them together in another, better comedy. There was a couple of moments where they almost had a Richard Pryor/Gene Wilder kinda vibe going back and forth and I think they have the potential to be a good movie comedy team. But not if they keep doing movies like this one.
It’s Danny McBride who sinks this movie for me. It seemed to me as if he couldn’t make up his mind if he’s in a comedy or a straight-up crime thriller. Especially in the last 20 minutes or so of the movie where the violence escalates wildly out of control in proportion to what we’ve been watching for the previous 60. But it’s always good to see Fred Ward again and in the brief scenes he has, especially his showdown with the hit man hired to kill him (Michael Pena) he shows why he’s been around in the business for so long and why he’s so much fun to watch on screen.
So should you see 30 MINUTES OR LESS? Well, if you do decide to check it out, it’s only 83 minutes long so it’s not like you’re gonna blow a whole afternoon or evening on it. I’m not saying it isn’t funny. It’s just not funny enough for me. It may be for you.