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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Movie Review: 30 MINUTES OR LESS


"Guess what? You just brought a gun to a bomb fight, officer!"
-- Nick

30 Minutes or Less is a 2011 action comedy directed by Ruben Fleischer that centers around a young man's attempt to rob a bank in order to save his own life. One night, down-on-his-luck pizza delivery boy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) makes a delivery to a seemingly abandoned junkyard where he is ambushed and attacked. When he awakes the next morning, he finds a bomb strapped to his chest. His attackers tell him that they need him to rob a bank and bring them $100,000, and if he doesn't comply, they'll set off the bomb. Nick quickly runs to his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) for help with the plan. At the same time, we learn that Nick's attackers are two low-level low-lifes named Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson), who need the money in order to hire a hitman (Michael Peña) to murder Dwayne's dad (Fred Ward) so that he can collect on his massive inheritance. These conflicting storylines add to the drama and the misadventure of both parties, making the simple plan go awry time and time again.

I'll start by saying that 30 Minutes or Less is definitely an acquired taste. It's one of those films that you'll only enjoy if you like this particular brand of humor. When you have four main leads who essentially play the same character in every one of their films, it's a little difficult for this one to branch off and become its own entity. Eisenberg plays the fast-talking nerdy guy who's a little down on his luck but still thinks he's smarter than everyone else. Aziz Ansari is over-the-top and loud, yelling half his lines for comedic effect. Danny McBride is... Danny McBride - there's not much more explanation needed there. Swardson breaks a little bit from his standard, but it's not much. So our big four in the film aren't bringing anything new and different to this one, so I couldn't help but picture them in their other movies. That doesn't bode well for 30 Minutes or Less. Still, we get a couple of good moments from Michael Peña, who proves to be the funniest character in the film.

Now the screenplay works relatively well considering the the storyline. I liked how they intersected the conflicts that both Nick/Chet and Dwayne/Travis face throughout the film, and some of the situational comedy works the best. Normally, I would blame the dialogue for some of the acting atrocities here, but considering who's in the film, the blame might belong to the actors themselves this time around. That being said, the film does move forward quickly and proves to be well-paced, so that should be commended. Some of the laughs are a little bit stale, but the action sequences, although few and far between, are some of the film's highlights.

30 Minutes or Less is Ruben Fleischer's second directorial effort - his first was 2009's Zombieland - and it's definitely a step down from that first film. Still, it's difficult to compare the two films considering the genres are slightly different, but as an overall entertaining experience, 30 Minutes doesn't even come close. It generated a few laughs here and there, and it kept my attention throughout, but there's nothing lasting or memorable about what occurs on-screen. I wouldn't recommend seeing this one in theaters, but it might be good for a late-night viewing once you're able to rent it.

Movie Review Summary
Grade: C
Thumbs Sideways

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