At some point down the line, 30 Minutes or Less must have looked like a great idea for a movie. It brought together top comic talent in Aziz Ansari and Danny McBride, a rising star in Jesse Eisenberg, his Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer and a novel concept whereby the lead character has a bomb strapped to his chest and it will explode if he doesn’t raise $100,000 in ten hours. It should have worked. The talent was in place, now all they needed to do was mesh together action and comedy and most of all, make sure they brought the funny. Alas, director Ruben Fleischer and writer Michael Diliberti fall massively short.
The film follows Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) a reluctant Pizza delivery driver who works for a generic douche bag of a boss whose Pizza company packs the titular promise that it will deliver your pizza in under 30 minutes or you get your money back. That’s the only connection the film’s name has to the plot by the way. It doesn’t have any greater relevance later on. Surely the producers could concoct a more catchy, memorable or at least vaguely relevant title than this?
Anyway, nit-picking and minor gripes aside for now, 30 Minutes sees Eisenberg’s Nick fall out with his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) when it emerges that Nick has slept with Chet’s twin sister and in return Chet was the direct cause of Nick’s parent’s divorce. Meanwhile, across town, delinquent thugs Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) concoct a scheme to bump off Dwayne’s wealthy father so as they can then collect the inheritance. To do this however they need to raise $100,000 in order to pay a gangster to come and do the hit. The hapless duo decide to get a total stranger to rob a bank for them and after seeing his Pizza company’s advert, Nick is tricked into driving to Dwayne and Nick’s hideout and thus becomes their unwitting assailant. With a bomb strapped to his chest which is booby trapped to go off if he tries to remove it, Nick has ten hours to get the money or else he is a dead man. Nick reconciles with Chet and between them they decide the only thing they can do is to rob a bank.
Written down it sounds like it should work, which is why it’s so disappointing when the end product is just such a forgettable wasted opportunity. The plot itself is all over the shop and never too sure where its focus should be. One minute the focus is on Nick and Chet’s bromance, then its Dwayne’s doomed plans to off his pop and claim the inheritance, then a small dose of romance is crow barred in, then it’s back to Nick and Chet……etc etc etc. The problem with zipping from plot point to plot point though is that none of these strands ever feels fully formed and ultimately you just don’t care about any of the characters.
With regards to the comedy, barring the odd moderately amusing line courtesy of Ansari or McBride, it’s in criminally short supply. It’s so forgettable in fact; I’m struggling to pick out even one line of note. It’s almost hard to believe that the makers of Zombieland, the star of Eastbound and Down and one of the main draws from Parks and Recreation manages to muster so little mirth between them.
Maybe it suffers more from unrealistic expectations than anything else but whatever it is, 30 Minutes is a disappointing damp squib. I’m sure all of the parties involved will go on to do bigger and better things though and this movie will become an easily forgotten footnote on their CV’s.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Stars: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson
Runtime: 83 mins