Friday, January 3, 2014

30 Minutes or Less

Directed by Ruben Fleischer.
2011. Rated R, 83 minutes.
Dilshad Vadsaria
Bianca Kajlich
Fred Ward
Brett Gelman

Dwayne (McBride) isn't nearly as smart as he thinks. To boot, he is a slacker at odds with his wealthy dad (Ward). Really, he’s just waiting for the old man to die so he can inherit everything. When he lets this bit of info slip to Juicy (Kajlich), the stripper giving him a lap-dance, she tells him she knows someone who could expedite the process for a hundred grand. Of course, he doesn’t have that kind of money. With his sidekick Travis (Swardson), who happens to be good at making explosives, he decides to kidnap someone and force them to rob a bank for him. This is where Nick (Eisenberg) comes in. He’s a pizza delivery guy with problems of his own. He just had a fight with his best friend Chet (Ansari) and he’s attracted to Chet’s sister Kate (Vadsaria), but won’t tell her. He is also the unlucky chap who makes a delivery to Dwayne and Travis. He is quickly knocked out when he gets there. When he wakes up he finds he has a bomb strapped to his chest and is told he will rob a bank today, or else he’s going to go boom. In case you aren’t quite sure, this is a comedy.

Most of the movie consists of us, along with Dwayne and Chet, following Nick around as he decides what to do and figures out how to go about doing it, with Chet’s help, naturally. On both sides of this coin, we get lots of bickering between two guys. There is less where Dwayne and Travis is concerned as the former is mostly in charge. If you boil down all the yelling they do it equals one guy coming up with an idea and the other calling him stupid. Eventually, a course of action is agreed upon which doesn’t go as planned and the cycle starts over. This repetition lends itself to the theory of diminishing returns. The jokes yield fewer and fewer laughs as the movie goes on because they really haven’t changed since the beginning. The only real variation being how inventive the guys get with their swear words, of which there are more than enough.

To the movie’s credit, the plot hurtles forward with a kinetic energy. It rarely slows down, knowing it has to jam everything into an hour and a half. Those brief occasions are to set up our romance, but that’s about it. Most exposition is taken care of during those shouting matches I referenced. The rest of the film is made up of some form of action. Though they lack any real tension, they are occasionally entertaining.

More than any other genre, whether or not we like a comedy depends on how we feel about its stars. You either find certain people funny or you do not. I like Eisenberg okay, but can’t say I think he’s hilarious. I am also lukewarm on Danny McBride. Generally speaking, Ansari and Swardson both annoy me far more than make me laugh. When you add all that up, you get a movie that I believe has some funny moments, but mostly falls flat. The other aspects, like the story and action, are also rather hit-or-miss. Give it an additional demerit for reducing Michael Peña to a total stereotype. Now rewrite sentences three through six of this paragraph to better reflect how you feel about this movie’s stars.

MY SCORE: 5/10


  1. Good review Wendell. The movie is quick, jumpy and always moving, and kept me laughing a lot. May not be hilarious, but sure as hell is worth a watch if just for a short time-killer.

  2. Thanks, Dan. There are some funny moments, but a lot that either didn't work for me and/or I saw coming. Still not the worst movie so I wouldn't have a heart attack if someone wanted me to watch it again, though.