30MinutesOrLessPoster

Review: 30 Minutes of Less

by Nick Martin – Staff Writer

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Best Bad Quote:

C4, the C is for Chaos!”

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’30 minutes or less’, the latest comedic collaboration between director Ruben Fleischer and geek-chic poster boy Jesse Eisenberg, is a surprising success, given that its walks in the shadow of the monumentous success of their last effort, the universally acclaimed ‘Zombieland’. While the film never quite hits the heights of big brother ‘Zombieland’s slick and twisted take on zombie-survival, it is well worth watching, and easily bags itself a place atop the peking order of this summers rather lacklustre selection of ‘comedic treats’ (thak you, Hangover Part 2 and The Change-Up).

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The film follows our hopeless hero Nick (Eisenberg), a slovenly pizza boy with a serious crush on his best friends twin sister, through the course of what would be a perfectly normal day, were it not for the 20 pounds of C4 explosives strapped to his chest. You see, Nick has become an unwilling puppet of moronic duo Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson respectively), who’s ingenious plan is to force an innocent random to rob a bank for them, so they can raise the money to hire a hitman to assassinate Dwayne’s father, so Dwayne can get his hands on the cantankerous old mans big fat inheritance, and they can finally open up their dream tanning salon-come-brothel. Simple, no? The film then takes us on a thrill ride through Nicks day, as he frantically rebuilds friendships, dodges sleazy hitmen, whoos his dream girl, and tries to figure out just how a pizza boy is going to rob a bank.

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Channeling the frenzied spirit of 80’s buddy-cop movies such as ‘Lethal Weapon’ and ’48 Hours’, and sprucing it up with Noughties comedic sensibilities (pop culture references spill from the characters lips as readily as the inane profanity-laden dialogue), ’30 Minutes or Less’ manages to take a ridiculous premise and allow the humour to naturally develop from the characters realistic reactions to the situation, an respectable feat considering Hollywood’s current trend of throwing outrageous scenarios at ‘whacky’ characters and forcing the audience to endure the implausible outcome (Hangover, I’m looking at you again). What makes the film so enjoyable is that Nick and his reluctant friend Chet react to these situations exactly as you yourself would. They shop for bank-robbing supplies at their local supermarket. They steal their getaway vehicle from the garage of a friend of their parents. They desperately look up bomb diffusion techniques on google. Watching the pair bumble through their crash-course in crime is an absolute delight, as through every plastic-gun fumble and faux-tough guy threat we are thinking ‘I can’t think how I would have done it differently’.

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Part of the success of the movie can also be accredited to the brilliant chemistry between Nick and his best friend Chet (a refreshingly bigger role for usual bit-part player Aziz Ansari, sure to edge him closer to the comedy A-list). It’s great to see Eisenberg step away from the pompous, over-achieving nerd roles he has become known for (albeit to play a pompous, under-achieving pot-head), and the way he and Ansari bounce lines off of each other, you’d think they legitimately had been friends for years. Michael Pena, as the inept assassin who inevitably gets swept up into proceedings, is equally as brilliant, and dispute being criminally under-used, delivers some of the films best lines during his short time on screen (at one point, while psyching himself up to endure the pain of disinfecting a gun-shot wound, he reminds himself of how his momma always told him he was a pimp. Genius). The same however cannot be said for the dynamic duo of Dwayne and Travis. Nick Swardsons character, while lovably naive and ever loyal to his idiotic friend, feels at times like a poor-mans Zach Galifianakis, as though the film makers couldn’t stretch to brand name, and so had to settle for stores-own. McBride as well is starting to run the risk of growing stale. Playing the same clueless, selfish dick-head he has time and time again in films like ‘Your Highness’ and ‘Pineapple Express’, he is type-casting himself to the point where were I to run into him in the street, I would expect nothing more than a scowl, a fart, and an insulting combination of the words ‘complete’, ‘douche’ and ‘fuck’.

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Unfortuantely, McBride’s wasted potential isn’t the only thing blighting this otherwise incredibly enjoyable slice of action-comedy. While the humour grows naturally from the situations, certain elements of the plot itself feel somewhat shoe-horned in, and occasionally stall the movie when it should be rocketing on. An awkward reconcilliation between Nick and Chet following a harsh exchange of words at the beginning of the film feels rushed, as though they’re struggling to get the pair back on the same page in time for the third act. The same can be said for a completely unnecessary diversion into cliched thriller territory just before the finale (hint: ‘They’ve got my girl, dude!’) that feels as though the film makers were at a real loss as how to end the movie with a bang, and finally resorted to consulting the ‘Brett Ratners Guide to Churning out Profitable Action Thrillers’ handbook.

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However, in the end these are only minor niggles that served to merely hamper my enjoyment, as opposed to ruin it. Coming in at just over 83 minutes, this is still a snappy little joy ride of a movie, and while it probably won’t earn itself a place on anyones ‘All Time Favourites’ list, it’s still definitely worth checking out. So go see this movie, if not for anything else then at least to hear one of the brightest new stars of comedy spit out the taunt ‘You’re twins, did you feel it when I fucked her?’, a line which even on its own would still be well worth the price of admission.

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Rating:

4 out of 5 Bomb Strapped Teddy Bears

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