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Review: 30 Minutes or Less

Nothing more than a moronic, politically incorrect on all fronts, slacker flick; 30 Minutes Or Less is also nothing less than a good time. Director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) continually rescues his train-wreck of bad taste with tight, frantic pacing and shrewd comic timing.

When all seems to be going to the dogs, Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network) adds plausibility to a lead character who gets in over his head and then, in a completely paradoxically desperate and joyful sort of way, he is forced to pull a caper. Cruelty, misogyny, and extreme dumbness all dwell here, yet the film’s knowing energy seems to provide new wrinkles as an antidote to every cliche and pomposity it throws at you.

Dwayne (Danny McBride) discovers his need to off his “not cool,” lottery-winning Dad (Fred Ward, known here only as “The Major”) while getting a lap dance from a stripper named Juicy. This stripper just happens to know a good murderer-for-hire, Chango (Michael Pena, Lincoln Lawyer), but he charges $100,000 for the hit. To raise the money Dwayne and his dumber-than-dirt sidekick Travis (Nick Swardson) dream up a scheme to kidnap a pizza delivery kid….. Nick (Eisenberg). After knocking Nick out, they strap a bomb with a timer to his body in case he doesn’t want to cooperate by, say, robbing a bank for them. Since Parks and Recreation’s Aziz Ansari is Nick’s best friend (and also a home-wrecker), it’s only logical he’d want to come along and ride shotgun for Nick.

It’s hard to imagine this film working without Eisenberg, who again proves he can act up a storm in any genre. Yet the real sleeper here is Pena, who I can’t remember having been in a comedy before but his scenes are some of the most memorable of the film. Eisenberg and Ansari’s relationship is also highly believable and hits the comedic mark at every twist and turn. The other team… McBride and Swardson are very much exactly what you would expect. McBride’s getting a lot of bad press for this role but who else can play someone this utterly stupid this convincingly?

Before you’re lulled into total mindlessness, 30 Minutes Or Less brings you around for a pleasure without much guilty fallout but plenty of bemused aftertaste. Oh, and you won’t care much, but there actually was a news story where a pizza delivery man faced a very similar dilemma as Nick.  But since real life is often not a comedy…. he ended up dead.

6 Mindless Belly Laughs (Out Of 10)

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