Movie Review: 30 Minutes or Less

By Stephen Rebello

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Despite the sharp comic cast, this comedy limps to the finish line.


Director: Ruben Fleischer Rating: R Studio: Media Rights Capital

Paddling against the recent tidal wave of comedies that outstay their welcome, 30 Minutes or Less, which stars Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari, at least gets the job done in 83 minutes of throwaway laughs.

Eisenberg, fresh from his Oscar-nominated work in The Social Network, plays a smart, aimless, lovelorn pizza delivery guy who has hooked up with a pretty girl (Dilshad Vadsara), who happens to be the twin sister of his permanently pissed-off best friend (Ansari). Other than that dalliance, the twitchy, neurotic Eisenberg’s small town life is pretty much dead-ended until he gets a bomb strapped to him through the moronic scheming of a father-hating, gutter-mouthed lout (Danny McBride) who forces him to pull a tricky bank heist. McBride, you see, lusts after the lottery jackpot won by his aging dad (Fred Willard) because he wants to open a tanning salon brothel, a bizarre scheme that ropes in the scene-stealing Michael Peña as McBride’s hit man and Nick Swardson as his dim bulb ballistics expert guy.

Even with a sharp comic cast and that mercifully quick running time, talented director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) lets the air out of the comic balloon when it ought to be soaring along. The finale feels less like a victory lap than a shrug. And Michael Dilberti’s screenplay’s association with a real-life Erie, Pennsylvania pizza delivery man/bank robber who was killed when a bomb strapped to him exploded doesn’t—especially considering how strongly some of the moviemakers involved deny the importance of that basic similarity—generate extra good will.

About the Author

Playboy Contributing Editor Stephen Rebello has written many Playboy Interview and 20 Questions features. He is the author of such books as the notorious Bad Movies We Love (with Edward Margulies) and Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, the latter of which has inspired a dramatic feature film set for production in 2012. His most recent Playboy Interviews include Josh Brolin and Cameron Diaz.


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