30 Minutes or Less (2011)

Director: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Aziz Ansari

Ruben Fleischer brought us Zombieland. A film that, frankly, reeked of once-lucky. It was an excellent film, and very unique. So much so that it seemed a given that its director wouldn’t be able to follow it up. Well, this is both true and false. Whereas 30 Minutes or Less does not stand out nearly as much as his previous work, it is still a wholly excellent film, utterly engaging and very enjoyable.

The plot:
Pizza delivery boy Nick (Eisenberg) is leading what is essentially a pointless existence. He is not alone however, as Dwayne (McBride), a man still mooching off his wealthy father, is in a similar predicament. Hatching a plan to get rich, Dwayne kidnaps Nick, straps a bomb to his chest, and tells him he has ten hours to rob a bank or else he will explode. Combust. Go boom.

Replacing zombies with criminals and bombs, 30 Minutes is very similar to Zombieland. It is ludicrously witty, keeping the laughs coming in a constant stream. It is incredibly fast paced and also ridiculously short. Clocking in at only 83 minutes, it doesn’t over-stay its welcome. It packs enough information onscreen so that it doesn’t feel unfinished or cut short, and remains a thrill from the moment Nick is captured right up to its neat ending.

Similar to Zombieland also, this film surprises in that it is a buddy flick more than anything else. Two, technically. Nick and his only friend Chet (Ansari) rebound off each other wonderfully. In fact, Ansari really shines through more than anyone here, proving himself a very capable comic actor. Jesse Eisenberg is, and possibly forever shall be, Jesse Eisenberg. Some may view this as a bad thing, but he is relentlessly charismatic and witty and this serves the film well. At least he has grown out of his ‘Jesse We-Couldn’t-Get-Michael-Cera Eisenberg’ title.

The other buddy friendship is between Dwayne and Travis (Swardson). They fare less favourably. They are entertaining to watch, but McBride steals all the scenes in which they take part in without really giving Swardson to breath. Swardson plays the few scenes he has well, but feels underused.

30 Minutes drags itself out of the indie movie genre into the sort-of-but-not-quite indie genre. It is certainly far more accessible, and almost impossible not to enjoy. It is a small film in a number of ways. It has a short running time, its cast are not given any monumentally stellar roles, and it doesn’t attempt to be anything it’s not. Which is fine, because it succeeds completely in what it is. 30 Minutes is a solid comedy that, even after you have watched it, you will be laughing at something said in the first thirty minutes………………………………………………………………………….I’m not going to say it.

Awful Rating: 8/10

This will come back and haunt me! I’ll be having a picnic with my wife and kids, it’ll be a nice day and I’ll think to myself…..damn….I shouldn’t have let Nick explode that time.” – Chet

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • There is an excellent reference to The Social Network in the first fifteen minutes, watch out for it!
  • It feels weird bringing a banana into a cinema. I’m trying to be healthy and they don’t sell healthy stuff in the foyer so I brought a banana to eat and, well, it just feels really weird to try to eat one in a cinema…

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