30 Minutes or Less, director Ruben Fleischer’s crude, lewd and often hilarious film, does not pull many punches. In between many laughs, the audience often finds itself gasping and cringing. But would you expect anything less from the man who turned a zombie apocalypse into a canvas for sophomoric humor, a la 2009’s hit Zombieland?
The central plot line can be gathered from the movie’s trailer; two madmen strap a bomb to an innocent pizza guy’s chest and demand that he rob a bank for them. Perhaps one of the movie’s few flaws is that it spends far too long developing its plot.
Why anybody would be psychotic enough to strap a bomb to a stranger’s chest and demand he rob a bank is irrelevant, the whole situation is preposterous. In order for the movie to work, viewers have to suspend disbelief and enjoy the mayhem.
The pizza boy, played by Jessie Eisenberg, involves his slightly more successful best friend and roommate, portrayed by Aziz Ansari, in his bomb-laden, bank-robbing quest. Ansari appears to have more raw comedic talent than Eisenberg, riffing with some very funny dialogue that feels like it would fit perfectly into his popular stand-up act. But the two make a good team, and their scenes together hit many of the right comedic notes. The bank robbery scene itself is a madcap adventure that scores quite a few laughs.
Danny McBride plays the evil “genius” with the detonator. Perhaps most famous for his dark persona in HBO’s show Eastbound and Down, McBride is very believable as a twisted and challenged man.
Repetition of this act, however, renders this angle a bit tired. Fleisher gives too much screen time to McBride’s foul-mouthed character in the exposition of the film, and as a result the movie drags through a few of the plot-building episodes.
30 Minutes or Less, find its legs with the introduction of a secondary character played by Michael Pena. Pena portrays a Hispanic hitman and at times reaches moments of comedic genius. He is bloodied, beaten and humiliated in the movie and the audience is howling the entire time.
Look, if you’re going to this movie to see an Oscar contender or a slice-of-life drama, then you should probably watch the trailers again.
Movies like 30 Seconds or Less are disposable entertainment: big, loud and bawdy. When they are done right, they can be a lot of fun, but most, like 30 Seconds are a bit uneven, with plots that a blind man could see through or with slow spells that lose the laugh momentum.