30 Minutes or Less (2011) - Can't Stop the Movies
Can't Stop the Movies

30 Minutes or Less (2011)

Danny no longer writes for Can't Stop the Movies, and can be reached at his fantastic site Pre-Code.com

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Let's be honest, it's damned insanity for a restaurant to promise your food cooked, packaged and delivered in under thirty minutes. A restaurant must have two things to make this happen: a recipe that's easy to throw together and some dedicated people willing to get it there as quickly as possible.

Both of those also ingredients come into play for 30 Minutes or Less, a comedy made by some dedicated professionals that's flimsy but easy to digest. It's a comedy script streamlined to a fault-- so much so that it feels like chunks crawled away from the film out of some obviously anthropomorphized necessity of self preservation.

That's not to say that 30 Minutes is bad by much of a stretch, but it's a film that exists as kinetic energy. Jesse Eisenberg (Rio) and Aziz Ansari (TV's only good show, "Parks and Recreation") have a mania about them that fits the proceedings, and their chemistry is far more telling than anything in the script.

It's a good thing, too, since the movie is paced at a level approaching a fever dream. The plot goes a bit like this: loser pizza boy gets abducted by a pair of losers. The losers strap a bomb on the loser pizza boy to force him to rob a bank. Losers plan on using bank robbery proceeds to finance a hit man (not a loser). There are assorted strippers, hit men, loves lost, and bank tellers who stand in the way, but mostly this is a four man show.

"I'm going to blow! ... No, not for money, there's a bomb strapped to my... Wait, how much?"

Eisenberg has the bomb strapped to him, and Ansari is his pal who willingly tags along. On the other end of the spectrum are the movie's villains, Nick Swardson (Grandma's Boy) and Danny McBride (Your Highness), both emitting a high level of redneck doofiness that fits in perfectly with the film's chosen surroundings of Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids doesn't come across the best here, as the backgrounds are filled by abandoned warehouses and standing puddles of water. The scrapyard that McBride lords over is a throwback to the golden era of the state of Michigan, while his father, played by Fred Ward, spends money fruitlessly in a throwback to Bush era excess-- he's former military to drive that point home.

All of these little details collude into a town that's become as ramshackle and miserable as Eisenberg: when his crush tells him that she's moving to Atlanta, Eisenberg is devastated. It's as if she's abandoning him twice.

Sorry, Grand Rapids, what I meant to say is that you look swell. No, really.

Well, outside of Danny McBride, but that's not your fault.

The best part of the film is the actual robbery of the bank, which is both quick and tense while staying rapid fire funny. But if it's fast and funny, why am I so damned indifferent on this film? I guess it's because Ansari often feels like he's going along with Eisenberg for the sake of the plot than any logical sense (logical real world sense... you know what I mean), and Swardson's character changes from scene to scene. Also, like I mentioned before, chunks of the film seem missing, especially the 'blink and you'll miss it' ending that essentially resolves nothing but the action.

Let's go back to my metaphor at the beginning again, just to drive the point home: it's a bare bones pizza delivered quickly. It's well made, and it works on a base level, but it's just not very filling. If you're in the mood for a Pizza Hut quality movie, though, give it a shot.

P.S. - I don't know if it was the fairly sanitized television commercials, but the screening I attended (I say screening like it wasn't the 5:30 show on Friday) was chock full of kids. I was amazed that I noticed all of these children afterward-- who goes through the first tirade of f-bombs without taking their kids out? Or the strip club scene? Or the all of the people getting brutally murdered, including the guy who gets completely immolated?

I get that a five year old probably doesn't understand the women with the big tits hanging out, but even a child can comprehend physical violence. What the fuck were those parents thinking?

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Posted by Danny

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