- Running time:
- 83 minutes
- Jesse Eisenberg -
- Danny McBride -
- Aziz Ansari -
- Nick Swardson -
- Michael Peña -
Aimless slacker Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) delivers pizzas when he’s not goofing off with his teacher roommate Chet (Aziz Ansari). At least until the longtime friends have an epic falling out, right before Nick goes on the worst delivery of his life. He’s taken hostage by a couple of not-so-bright criminals (Danny McBride, Nick Swardson) who strap a bomb on Nick and threaten to blow him up if he doesn’t rob a bank for them. Nick realizes he needs Chet’s help to make it out of the insane situation alive.
The buzz: Another week, another R-rated comedy. This one has the advantage of reuniting “Social Network” Oscar nominee Eisenberg with his “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer, in the hopes of scoring another surprise action-comedy hit. It has also stirred up some controversy over whether or not the filmmakers were aware of a real life 2003 incident when a pizza delivery man was killed by a bomb strapped around his neck after robbing a bank.
The verdict: The cinematic equivalent of a shrug, “30 Minutes or Less” barrels through its mild laughs and rote action as if there’s a prize for delivering a movie in 90 minutes or less. Clocking in at just 83 minutes (including end credits and one last post-credits gag), the story is more economical than most of the summer’s comedies but doesn’t live up to the talent involved. It’s an oddly unambitious follow-up to “Zombieland” for Fleischer, who once again mixes action and comedy, this time with fewer visual gimmicks and weaker chemistry between his quartet of stars. Eisenberg reins in his usual smart aleck persona for a character too dull and directionless to bring out his best as a performer. McBride fares better in a role tailor-made for his casual crudeness and ability to find just a hint of depth in a seemingly shallow soul. Ansari and Swardson score a few laughs as the respectively sarcastic and dim-witted sidekicks in the slightly contrived dual buddy comedy format. While the movie coasts along on a just-OK-vibe, there’s never the feeling that anyone was bringing their A-game, or—with the exception of the standout bank robbery centerpiece—that the material was inspired enough to deserve it. There are shades of the Coen Brothers in the portrait of eccentric lowlifes and humor colliding with violence—but the comparison isn’t flattering. Whether inspired by actual events or not, the premise cries out for an artist capable of carefully balancing realism and silliness, but Fleischer’s execution is never gritty or outrageous enough to stick. You might have fun, but you’ll probably forget the whole thing in 30 minutes or less.
Did you know? Executive producer Monica Levinson previously worked with Fleischer on a still unreleased behind-the-scenes documentary about the making of 2006’s comedy hit “Borat.”
Follow Metromix's Geoff Berkshire on Twitter: @geoffberkshire
Movie theaters and showtimes for 30 Minutes or Less in Indianapolis.
No Showtimes available
Catch up on recent film reviews you might have missed the first time around.