Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) need money, and they come up with a great idea; strap a bomb to the chest of hapless pizza guy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) and force him to rob a bank. Ah the best laid plans…
30 Minutes or Less follows in the stoner comedy footsteps of Pineapple Express and Your Highness; the film tells the story of slackers forced to go extraordinary lengths by a situation that is entirely out of their control. Although it seems that this style of film is quickly running out of steam, the script for 30 Minutes or Less is surprisingly funny. There are solid laughs throughout the film; most of them delivered by the extremity of the scenario and the extraordinary people our heroes meet along the way.
With the Social Network Jesse Eisenberg recently proved that he is not just a great comedic actor, but he has depths of drama within him that no one really expected. In 30 Minutes or Less, Eisenberg returns to his awkward comedic roots and reteams with Zombieland director, Ruben Fleischer. It’s true that Eisenberg does not get the chance to do anything new with this role, but in teaming with the cast around him, he shows of his comic relationships and timing. Aziz Ansari as Chet plays a slightly less annoying version of the character he plays in Parks and Recreation on TV, and even though both he and Eisenberg both play the ‘straight’ man to an extent, the dynamic actually works quite well. Yes, there are places where the script falls flat, but Chet’s refusal to accept the seriousness of the situation makes for some amusing freakouts on Eisenberg’s part.
The villains of the piece come on the form of Danny McBride and Nick Swardson. Swardson has made a name for himself on the small screen, and is a great foil to McBride’s egomaniacal idiot character. McBride plays a very similar character to the one he created on Eastbound and Down, but it works in this movie. There is no doubt that McBride plays the obnoxious idiot incredibly well, and after the overlaboured fiasco that was Your Highness it is actually good to see him take a back seat for this one… Even if it’s just to allow Swardson to shine.
Sadly for Ruben Fleischer, 30 Minutes or Less is just not up to the standard of Zombieland. There are laughs and the cast are mostly great, but the problem is that they are just playing larger (or smaller) versions of characters that we already know them for. In all, 30 Minutes or Less is a good comedy, but it is not a game changer. These are actors we know, playing characters we love. But then, there is nothing wrong with that.