30 Minutes or Less

by Alan Rapp on August 12, 2011

in Movie Reviews 

  • Title: 30 Minutes or Less
  • IMDB: link

30-minutes-or-less-posterLoosely based on real story Jesse Eisenberg stars as slacker pizza deliver guy Nick who is kidnapped by two slackjawed buffoons (Danny McBrideNick Swardson) who strap a bomb to Nick’s chest and give him 10 hours to rob a bank. Don’t you hate it when that happens?

Nick must quickly make up with his best friend (Aziz Ansari), who he recently had a falling out with, and come up with a plan to save his life. Despite having everything to loose, Chet (Ansari) agrees to help Nick rob a bank with a plan that makes the guys from Bottle Rocket look like the Ocean’s Eleven crew.

Somehow 30 Minutes or Less wins a prize for being overly simplistic and convoluted at the same time. I’m still not sure exactly how screenwriter Michael Diliberti managed to do this. It turns out McBride and Swardson don’t want the $100,000 for themselves but as a down payment for a hitman (Michael Peña), the boyfriend of a stripper (Bianca Kajlich) they have just met, to kill McBride’s character’s father (Fred Ward). Did you follow all that?

There’s also a subplot involving Chet’s sister Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria) who Nick slept with after high school graduation and has always carried a torch for, but his admission to Chet about the relationship is partially what has led to the rift in their friendship. Vadsaria is stuck in a mostly thankless role as Nick’s successful would-be girlfriend to be won while the guys get to have all the fun.

Eisenberg and McBride both fall back into their trademark character roles rather effortlessly. Both could handle what they’re asked to do in their sleep (which, at times, it appears they are doing). And Ansari’s presence seems mainly to punch up the scenes with some added humor and have someone on-screen who Eisenberg can be either kind or a dick to, depending on what the script calls for from moment to moment.

30 Minutes or Less

30 Minutes or Less isn’t a bad movie, but it’s not that remarkable either. And, most troubling, it doesn’t have a point. It’s not a story about seizing control of your life, or taking risks, or friendship, or love, or even a bank robbery. While all these elements exist in the film they are simply wedged in here or there, somewhat haphazardly, rather than pieced together with any real skill or intended message. 30 Minutes or Less simply wants to be fun, nothing more, nothing less. Even setting the bar that low it only succeeds a little more than half the time.

There are no real memorable moments, and the bank robbery itself is one of the most uninteresting heists ever caught on screen (although we get an passable chase scene, for a comedy, directly following the pair exiting the bank). There are plenty of laughs to be had but also long stretches where you’ll probably be looking at your watch, deciding where to have dinner, or mentally balancing your checkbook.

30 Minutes or Less

For a movie that’s less than 90 minutes it still drags in spots. That’s not a good thing. The film also relies far too much (at least for my tastes) on raunchy humor being funny just by the fact that it’s raunchy (regardless as to whether the joke itself is funny). I wish the film had spent half as much energy trying to tighten up the script and make the story stand on its own instead of lazily trolling for “edgy” humor and cheap laughs.

If you go see 30 Minutes or Less you’ll probably have an okay time if you keep your expectations low and think (like the script does) that inserting the word fuck randomly throughout the film makes everything funnier. I can’t quite bring myself to recommend paying for it, but if you find it in a Redbox in six-months or you’re at a party in a couple years where the alcohol is flowing freely, you might give it a look.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

{ 2 trackbacks }

Previous post:

Next post: