30 Minutes or Less (2011)

[Taps into microphone.] Has anyone told this joke yet? Yes? Can I tell it anyway? Yes? Okay, this movie should have been 30 minutes or less. [Crickets.] Wait, it’s not a joke because even at a brisk 83 minutes, this movie lasts about an hour too long. This supposed comedy about a pair of bumbling, misguided layabouts who force another pair of bumbling, misguided layabouts to rob a bank, 30 Minutes or Less lacks a sensible narrative much less well earned laughs.

Writer Michael Diliberti spins his plot out of a curious but not at all funny true story from 2003 when a pizza delivery man died after a bomb he was wearing exploded during a bank robbery planned by him and his friends. Leave it to Hollywood to run with this absurdity. Jesse Eisenberg plays Nick, the aimless pizza deliverer who gets roped into the scheme by two numbskulls. Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) aren’t what we’d call credits to society. The friends spend their days shooting watermelons, drinking beer in a shack, and sometimes cleaning a pool for ten dollars an hour. But they do aspire to more in life. Dwayne’s goal is to start a tanning salon from where he can also run a prostitution ring. (So yes, men made this movie.)

Luckily Dwayne’s father, Major (Fred Ward), is a lotto winner and multimillionaire. He’s also a domineering sonofabitch who thinks he’s still in the Marines and treats his son accordingly. Dwayne has no qualms about killing his old man for the inheritance so that he can begin achieving his life dreams. However, he doesn’t want to do the killing nor does he have the money to hire a hit man. Now this seems like an easily resolvable problem: enlist the killer’s services and promise a bigger payout when the job’s done – the victim is a multimillionaire after all. But maybe I’m not wise to the ways of contract killing and this is not a sound alternative. Instead, Dwayne and Travis make the more logical choice and kidnap Nick, strap a bomb to his chest, and force him to rob a bank, or else.

The two are clearly not evolved beings. It’s no accident that they wear monkey masks to hide their identities. Nick isn’t a paragon of human intellect either though. In this story, the most adult-like character might be his best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari), who works as a substitute teacher and recognizes that he has responsibilities, like getting to work on time. But even he is prone to fits of juvenile rage, and the two fall out after Chet discovers that Nick has been banging his twin sister (Dilshad Vadsaria).

The actors are confirmed funny people, so why is this movie so boring? At some point, you realize you’re just watching a bunch of idiots try to outsmart each other. Even when you throw in the always dependable Michael Peña as the hit man, it’s still a parade of whiny nitwits. Sometimes ineptitude is just not funny.

Released: 2011
Prod: Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller, Jeremy Kramer
Dir: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Michael Diliberti
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Michael Peña, Dilshad Vadsaria, Bianca Kajlich, Fred Ward, Brett Gelman
Time: 83 min
Lang: English
Country: United States
Reviewed: 2017

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