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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Falls short of being as great as it first lets on
on August 13, 2011
THIS DOES CONTAIN SOME SPOILERS
Ruben Fleischer's first directorial effort, Zombieland, was met with both critic acclaim and fan appraisal. There seem to be far fewer people who disliked Zombieland compared to those who enjoyed it. Zombieland was quite entertaining though; its cast was incredibly well-rounded, it offered a new spin on a story we've seen dozens of times before, and most of all it offered humor and sharp wit during what is otherwise the end of the world; a time when you least expected it. Zombieland was something special. However, 30 Minutes or Less seems like a completely different type of comedy. The trailers lead you to believe it could go either way; one way being extremely hilarious and the other ending with you kicking yourself because you didn't just wait to rent it. Even after seeing the movie, 30 Minutes or Less still manages to fall somewhere in the middle of that generalization.
30 Minutes or Less starts off pretty strong. The dialogue is really funny, you can feel the chemistry between the actors, and the storyline is progressing at a steady pace. It seems like it's on track to be this fantastically amusing R-rated comedy that's one of the funniest films of the year, but it begins to lose steam after the bank robbery. It's like the humor begins to lose its wit and becomes more about bickering between the duos Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) and Chet (Aziz Ansari) and Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson). By the end of the movie, you'll wonder how a pizza deliveryman who does nothing but smoke pot, drink, play video games, and watch action movies who's never amounted to anything his entire life can rob a bank, get away with it, and be as smart as he is about the entire situation. Is it years of untapped potential finally bubbling to the surface or a giant plot hole? You'll have to be the judge of that.
There seems to be a plethora of plot devices added in the second half of the movie that hurts it overall. A pen gun, a hired gun getting his own side story, a romance, the potential tan salon Dwayne and Travis won't stop talking about, police chases, the leverage changing hands several times, and flamethrowers all entering the picture, it all becomes too much to process. Trying to juggle that many scenes only results in a movie like this stumbling in its attempted execution.
The cast is 30 Minutes or Less finest asset. The writing certainly has its moments, but the actors are what make the movie as entertaining as it is. Jesse Eisenberg portrays that same sharp wit you've come to expect from the actor. Meanwhile Danny McBride gives one of his best performances. McBride tends to be utilized so well as a supporting character. All of his qualities seem to shine brightest when he's not the main character. It's one of the reasons Your Highness didn't work out. Nick Swardson plays up the bomb expert/second fiddle to Dwayne role incredibly well. He's more intelligent than he lets on and the scene where he's unleashing his kicks in front of a tied up and bomb straddled Nick is probably his funniest in the movie. Last but not least, there's Michael Peña who's the one character in the movie who can get laughs just by the way he talks alone. His "pimp" scene in the mirror is quite amusing. You may have noticed I left out Aziz Ansari and that's mostly because it felt like he wasn't very funny at all. He had a few one-liners that are snicker-worthy, but seemed to ruin it by running it into the ground and just overdoing it in general.
The other disheartening thing about 30 Minutes or Less is the way it ends. It doesn't feel like a conclusion since everything just kind of stops. The movie ends with a laugh and has a pretty ridiculous scene after the credits, but it leaves so many unanswered questions. It was probably left open for a possible sequel, which would probably just completely ruin what limited appeal this comedy has.
30 Minutes or Less is fast paced, action packed, and even downright hilarious at times. Unfortunately, it doesn't keep up the momentum it first starts off with. The humor becomes stale, the actors tend to get caught up in being silly rather than moving the story along, and action takes a front seat in the second half while the comedy takes a hit, but 30 Minutes or Less is still fairly amusing and at least worth a rental in the long run.