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Movie Review: 30 Minutes Or Less
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30 Minutes or Less
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Aziz Ansari, Michael Pena, Fred Ward, Bianca Kajlich, Dilshad Vadsaria
Release Date: August 12, 2011

Director Ruben Fleischer has a variety of unorthodox ways to evoke action, rampage, and chaos. After only two feature-length films (first being Zombieland) we can see that his forte may already be established and that his vision has become distorted by things that go boom. Innumerable are his whacked out and distinct ideas that somehow and some way get made into a film that either succeeds or misses the mark somewhat. Refer to Zombieland, in which that film sufficiently mapped out and exhibited more than a dozen extravagant ways to execute an approaching zombie.

His approach to 30 Minutes or Less is even more chaotic yet less coherent and blatantly contrived. The lack of regard for more details that he displays here (this deficiency can be attributed to the 83–minute run time) may represent his inability to structure a fully believable tale that consists of mindless individuals in incomparable circumstances.

The world Fleischer delivers us to is vague and extremely unintelligent. Reasoning has become extinct, and the only means of getting out of a dangerous situation is by simply applying yourself to it, almost as if it is a human-sacrifice. If you fail you die. If you succeed you live. Very simple. And the emphasis that this film puts on this simplicity is the foundation that makes it watchable and, surprisingly, somewhat enjoyable. All the characters are one-dimensional. They know what they want and unhesitatingly go for it. They offer us little revelation or surprise. Such things come from first time screenwriter Michael Diliberti‘s outlandish and vulgar script, which venerates sensation and surprise, taking this film to places that we hardly see coming.

Things aren’t looking too well for our idiotic villains. Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson), the former being the son of a multi-million dollar father (Fred Ward), are best friends living a mundane and sad existence. Their kicks come from watching Jason Voorhees’ films and eating at a taco joint. These activities don’t promise them everlasting happiness nor even fleeting happiness. They are lost souls. What they do for a job is clean Dwayne’s father’s enormous pool for measly pay. When at a strip club they meet Juicy (Bianca Kajlich), a stripper who Dwayne tells about his inheritance when his father dies. She comes up with a plan involving her pimp (Michael Pena), who will take out Dwayne’s father for one-hundred grand.

But to get one-hundred grand is what is impeding Dwayne and Travis’ scheme. They know of a pizza joint that promises delivery in less than 30 minutes or the order is free. The delivery driver, Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), exerts a ton of effort in getting his deliveries on time. So Dwayne orders a pizza, Nick delivers it, he gets knocked out, and wakes up to find a bomb strapped to his chest. Nick has ten hours to rob one-hundred grand from a bank. If he fails he dies. If he succeeds he lives. But since the villains are a duo, Nick would need a partner in crime. He resorts to his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari), an elementary school teacher who freaks out about everything in obnoxious tirades, including Nick’s relationship with his twin sister, played by Dilshad Vadsaria.

The human behavior seen in this film is at an all-time low, becoming even more exacerbating as things move forward. Everything that comes out of McBride’s mouth is aggressive, infernal, and vicious. McBride saves the movie with his performance as a disillusioned infantile grown-up who believes his absurd scheme will grant him ultimate happiness. His character is one-hundred percent believable as opposed to the character portrayed by Eisenberg. His Nick is panic-stricken. Eisenberg proved in Zombieland and The Social Network that losing one’s cool isn’t acceptable. His demeanor alone signifies he is wrongly cast for this role. The dialogue that comes out of his mouth isn’t in accordance with his demeanor. Eisenberg comes off as being more awkward than panic-stricken.

Diliberti’s script laces hilarity with the despondency found at the soul in every character in this movie, and in doing so mildly subdues the film’s maliciousness. Lifeless and inhumane are the many who occupy a role in this movie. But the stupidity and lack of refinement found in each one of them proves to be a necessary component in the film’s attempt to acknowledge the extremes individuals are willing to endure in order to ensure themselves a complacent existence even if they can’t fathom the ramifications their actions would entail.

Rating: *** out of *****


  1. Even worse is that this movie (a comedy, suposedly) is based on a true event where the bomb-laden pizza guy has his head all blowed up.  Not funny.  Mitigated somewhat by the guy actualy being IN on the caper, but still…bad taste.

    Comment by bsmnt23 — August 13, 2011 @ 2:22 pm

  2. Nice Review! As R-rated comedies go, this one is modestly enjoyable but unremarkable, liable to be forgotten in, oh, say, a half hour or so. The cast is having fun and although the film is over in 1 hour and 23 minutes, you still have fun the whole time. Check out my review when you can!

    Comment by Dan O'Neill — August 14, 2011 @ 7:33 am

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