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30 Minutes or Less
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 22, 2011
Format: DVD
30 Minutes or Less is a slacker comedy from Ruben Fleischer, the director of Zombieland, that runs only 53 minutes more than its title suggests. The story of a pizza delivery boy who is forced to rob a bank by two thugs who strap a bomb to him, much has been made about how the film bears a remarkable similarity to a real-life, more tragic story from a few years ago. The creators have vehemently denied this story served as inspiration and while the true story may have provided the kernel of an idea for the screenwriters, the rest is taken in a substantially different, some may argue disrespectful, direction.

Jesse Eisenberg, fresh off his Oscar-nomination for The Social Network, plays Nick, a 20-something pizza boy who spends his days smoking pot and failing to deliver pizzas in the "30 minutes or less" timeframe the pizza chain promises. He has only one friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari), a substitute teacher, but the two have a falling out over various admissions, including Nick's relationship with Chet's sister Katie (Dilshad Vadsaria). Meanwhile, two losers named Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) live under the shadow of Dwayne's domineering, ex-military father The Major (Fred Ward), while making $10 an hour cleaning his pool. At a strip-club, Dwayne tells a stripper about his father winning the lottery and how he could stand to inherit a couple million dollars if The Major were to die. Promising Dwayne a permanent position in his lap, the stripper tells Dwayne that if he can come up with $100,000, she knows someone who can make his father disappear indefinitely. With their get-rich-quick scheme in place, Dwayne and Travis ambush Nick, strap a bomb to his chest, and give him 10 hours to rob a bank.

The plot makes no apologies for how ridiculous it is, but is actually clever in the way it gives a rather stupid plan to really stupid characters. After all, Dwayne and Travis' plan to have Nick rob a bank and give them the money so they can get some money is rather redundant. This does however work well, as the Dwayne and Travis characters are completely witless. History has suggested that a film with such a short running time shows a lack of ideas on the part of the screenwriter. In this case, it works for the film rather than against it. 30 Minutes or Less is brief, but not a single scene seems unnecessary and the pacing is top-notch. This is a comedy that moves very quickly and is both very exciting and very funny without feeling too rushed. The actual robbery scene, one of the highlights, is laugh-out-loud funny and genuinely exciting as well. The bomb strapped to Nick provides the story with a sense of urgency too. The script will be dismissed as derivative due to the buddy-comedy, action-comedy elements that have been heavily used in other films but it's successful in the way it finds its footing very quickly and never becomes too dark, too serious, or too light-hearted. It's fast-moving and very consistent in the way it unfolds and how it keeps the humor fresh in a mostly un-funny situation. It actually ends well too, with an abrupt ending that is a Hollywood ending at heart but isn't a complete Hollywood cop-out. It does end abruptly and readings have revealed a much darker, effective ending in the original script, but it still succeeds by wisely avoiding the cheesy Hollywood need to wrap everything up nicely so audiences can leave feeling warm and fuzzy.

Fleischer is an excellent director that can balance the different genre elements with finesse and style. Whether he's directing dialogue scenes or the obligatory (in this type of film) car chase sequence, it all works and comes together nicely. There are also some subtle elements in the way he establishes the characters through look and attire. What is Fleischer suggesting by having Dwayne and Travis, the film's dumbest characters, wear Metallica and Insane Clown Posse shirts? If he is suggesting something, I applaud him. The film moves with a constant energy, helped along by a cast that has energy in spades. Eisenberg handles comedy quite well and he makes his performance in The Social Network seem even more impressive by comparison. His character Nick mentioning Facebook is an amusing little aside by itself. Ansari is a bundle of comedic energy, yet keeps his amped-up acting from going completely over-the-top. McBride, whom I consider to be one of the funniest comedians around, doesn't venture far from the dim-witted, egotistical jerk character he's made his name playing, but McBride possesses a comedic delivery that is unmatched by his contemporaries and he's as effective and hilarious as ever. Everyone has met a guy like the characters McBride plays and he plays these types with a satirical gusto that is much more layered than its low-brow humor suggests. Michael Peña is becoming the go-to-guy for comedic roles with over-the-top accents, but as a talented dramatic actor he makes each one different and, while over-the-top, it's never campy. His performance as the potential hitman Chongo is a highlight here. Even Nick Swardson, whom I never find particularly funny, is actually well-utilized here. There's a friendly, energetic chemistry between Eisenberg, Ansari, McBride, and Swardson that really drives the film. It's apparent that the actors involved had a good time making it, which translates well onscreen and makes the movie even more of a joy to watch. When actors can be seen clearly having fun with their work, this generally has a positive effect on the audience viewing the film. From the actor's demeanor and rapport, I'd guess this was about as fun to make as it was to watch.

30 Minutes or Less is simple summer, Hollywood fun with a cast of talented comedic actors working within the confines of stronger-than-expected material. It hasn't been received too well, but comedy is the most subjective genre of film and film critics don't exactly fall into this film's demographic. It's fun and energetic, with non-stop humor that will be enjoyed by the average moviegoer and anyone who has liked the previous work of the principal cast. How one can pan a film so highly enjoyable is beyond me.

GRADE: B+
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
on November 26, 2011
Format: DVD
Rent this if you like hilarious thrillers starring gifted improv actors. The direction and editing are also top notch. I watched this with virtually no expectations and was thoroughly entertained for two hours! Reminiscent of "Ruthless People" for those of you with long memories...
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon August 13, 2011
Format: DVD
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.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
VINE VOICEon September 21, 2012
Format: DVD
Dwayne (Danny McBride) despises his father (Fred Ward) and wants his riches. The natural choice is to link up with a bonehead friend named Travis (Nick Swardson) to make a bomb, kidnap a pizza delivery guy named Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), make Nick rob a bank, and use the money from the bank heist to hire a hitman (horribly out of place Michael Pena). If it sounds like a little bit too much to squeeze together into a coherent plot that has a semblance of believability, I agree. And that's not even considering the hitman's intricate side story, flamethrowers, an Indian best friend inexplicably named Chet (Aziz Ansari), and the dreaded, unnecessary romantic angle that seemingly gets shoe-horned into every movie for absolutely no redeemable reason (well, getting Dilshad Vadsaria some screen time is the only redeemable reason).

There are several laughs, and fans of McBride will like the movie more than most. He absolutely steals the movie from the intended "star" Eisenberg, who does his best to distance himself from Zombieland. The distance is not enough, and Rule #1 needs to be revisited. He is neither believable or worth rooting for - unlike Zombieland. He plays Eisenberg. It's interesting to note, however, that McBride plays a stereotypical McBride character and comes off brilliantly.

It's nothing that will blow your socks off, but it's not the worst thing I've ever seen. The deleted scenes and outtakes are pretty good. Rent it; don't buy it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format: DVD
Jesse Eisenberg plays a savvy pizza delivery boy whose driving ability makes the "Fast and Furious" crowd look like pregnant snails dragging a brick. His roommate is Aziz Ansari, who recently got a job as a full time teacher...with a laser pointer.

The subplot involves Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) adult versions of Beavis and Butthead who lack jobs, perhaps the real stars of this film.

Eisenberg is involved in an early conversation about "Facebook" something he claims he doesn't do anymore, a reference to a previous film.

The plot starts out complex and inane. Dwayne's dad (Fred Ward) has money which Dwayne believes he will inherit. A stripper(Bianca Kajlich) knows a hit man and suggests to him during a lap dance that he bump off his dad. The rub is that the hit man needs $100,000 first. So the duo decide to get the cash from a bank robbery which they will make someone else perform...such as our pizza boy. And of course nothing goes as planned as everything takes multiple comical twists.

The movie had numerous LOL funny lines...."Just like the Marines. If you screw up, we leave your ... behind!" The stupidity of the bad guys is what makes this film funny. Eisenberg's character was a bit lame and needed some comic help.

Solid 4 1/2 STARS.

F-bomb, crude humor, adult situations, nudity (Bianca Kajlich).
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on May 3, 2014
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
This movie is pretty good. I have watched it at least 5 times since I've had it. This movie is partly based on a real story,so if you want to see a funny movie with some real aspects to it,I suggest picking up this movie!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2013
Format: Blu-rayVerified Purchase
Not all that impressed. It's okay, but not hilarious. I was disappointed, but had purchased it to get the free movie tickets for This Is The End, which, btw, was hysterical and very entertaining.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2013
Format: DVD
The comedy in this film is top notch and you'll definitely be in for some laughs. The acting is superb and that's largely to do with the excellent casting. Swordson and ansari are an amazing set of comics in their own right. Danny mcBride basically plays Kenny Powers here but it doesn't matter as it fits in so well with the plot.

The only thing that left me wanting more was the scope of the script. I felt like it could have been a little more in depth on the romance and the ending was one of those I wish it hadnt ended affairs.

The ad libbing was pretty good but noticeable for sure. You won't think the actors lines are scripted. Overall worth a rent but not a buy. the extra features are the usual behind the scenes lovefest and outtakes. Nothing too impressive but again worth a one time watch.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on October 21, 2011
Format: DVD
"Chet, if I don't get to the money in time this thing's gonna blow." Dwayne (McBride) and Nick (Eisenberg) have different lives but they both feel the same way about them. Dwayne is sitting around waiting for his dad to die so he can get the inheritance money. When a stripper tells him she can find a guy to kill him, his life changes. Rather then getting his hands dirty he forces pizza delivery driver Nick to do it for him, by putting a bomb on his chest. Contrary to what the plot of the film is, this is very, very funny. The combination of two clueless people forcing two clueless kids to rob a bank is hilarious and very fun to watch. Eisenberg is back in "Zombieland" form, and McBride is the funniest he has ever been. The supporting cast adds a lot to the movie, and there really isn't a dull moment in this movie. Most comedies lately try to add to much heart (where it doesn't need it) and it takes away from the laughs. This one plays more like a "Seinfeld" type, where everyone is mean and rude to everyone else, and that is what makes it so much fun. It doesn't try to be something it's not. Overall, the rare type of recent comedy that makes you laugh all the way through. I give it an A-.

*Also try - Your Highness & Zombieland
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 29, 2011
Format: DVD
This seems like two different movies crammed into one. First you have the semi-serious dark comedy starring Eisenberg and Danny McBride, who both give fairly nuanced performances. If the route these two actors had taken had been followed by the writer and other cast members, this MIGHT have been a decent movie. Instead, we get the predictable goofy roommate, played by Ansari, who is a Chris Rock level of horrible actor, some extremely infantile violence-laced humor, and the most idioticly unrealistic ending I've seen in ages. This movie is not just stupid, but assumes that the audience is stupid as well.
This is based on a true story that is FAR more interesting than what we get. Of course, in real life, the pizza delivery guy died a horrible death, so a comedy might be a hard sell. What a horrible tribute to a real-life tragedy.
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