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"30 Minutes or Less" Review

If something about the setup of 30 Minutes or Less seems familiar, it's because you're thinking of the weird case in 2003 where a middle-aged guy in Pennsylvania walked into a bank claiming he had been jumped and fitted with a bomb shackled around his neck and if he didn't get money for his attackers, he'd die. Captured by the police after failing to get away, he was sitting on the pavement waiting for the bomb squad to arrive when the bomb went off, killing him. Who did this to him and whether he was party to scheme was a mystery and even though there were eventually people held accountable, there is still some speculation whether the masterminds were actually punished.

Fortunately, director Ruben (Zombieland) Fleischer's movie downplays the grimness and merely uses the bomb vest device in a totally unrelated story. Danny McBride is a moron (no typecasting here!) who hates his father and concocts a scheme to have him killed in order to inherit the rest of his Lotto winnings. In order to get the money for a hitman, he and his dim-but-technically-savvy buddy lure pizza delivery guy Jesse Eisenberg to an isolated spot where they jump him, chloroform him, and strap a bomb to him. With orders to get $100,000 within 10 hours or BOOM!, Jesse goes to his best friend, Aziz Ansari, whom he's on the outs with after admitting he'd slept with Aziz's twin sister years before. Hijnks ensue.

Fast-paced at only 83 minutes long, 30 Minutes or Less delivers plenty of profane, low-brow laughs along with some sly observational gags (e.g. McBride's riff on proper mix tape construction for crime) and it's obvious that there was plenty of improvisation happening. If there's a flaw with the movie, it's that the characters don't arc much even within the limits of a movie that all takes place in one day. The performances are all good and Eisenberg continues to make anyone who thought Michael Cera deserved a career regret their naivety. (Judging from Cera's IMDB page, the failure of Scott Pilgrim, Hollywood has finally discovered he is box office poison.)

Compared to Zombieland, which had a much better script, 30 Minutes or Less feels a tad slight. It's worth seeing, just not trekking to the theater for.

Score: 6/10. Rent it.


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