’30 Minutes or Less’ Review

Published 4 years ago by , Updated March 3rd, 2014 at 7:06 am,

30 Minutes or Less Review 30 Minutes or Less Review

Screen Rant’s Kofi Outlaw Reviews 30 Minutes or Less

Where exactly does 30 Minutes or Less fit into the crowded lane of comedy films? The honest answer is somewhere in the nondescript middle. I once had a friend tell me that when it comes to attractiveness, it’s better to be on the very high end, or very low end. Nobody really notices or remembers what’s in the middle.

This theory (while usually applied to people) is certainly true for this film. Despite the fact that director Ruben Fleischer made a significant impression with his horror/comedy Zombieland, and the fact that the film’s cast (Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) are all rising or established stars, somehow they (and the movie) quickly become stranded in mediocrity.

The story follows Nick (Eisenberg), a slacker whose only function in life is speeding through town delivering pizzas under the pressure of a “30 Minutes or Less” deadline. Nick’s best (and seemingly only) friend is Chet (Ansari), a school teacher who has put aside his slacker ways. Chet is also a twin, and his sister Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria) happens to be Nick’s longtime secret crush. When this fact gets aired one night during a no-holds-barred bro-fight, Nick and Chet having a major falling out.

…Which doesn’t last long, since Nick soon finds himself in the clutches of two monkey-masked conspirators named Dwayne and Travis (McBride and Swardson). They strap a bomb-vest to Nick to coerce him into robbing a bank, in order to get money to pay a hitman (Michael Peña) to kill Dwayne’s militant father (Fred Ward), thereby leaving Dwayne to inherit daddy’s multi-million Lotto fortune. Nick ropes Chet into helping carry out the brazen bank robbery mission – but of course, nothing goes as Nick, or his tormentors, initially plan.

Jesse Eisenbert and Aziz Ansari in 30 Minutes or Less 30 Minutes or Less Review

Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari in '30 Minutes or Less'

30 Minutes or Less is a comedy that has a dumb plot, which fails to redeem itself through hilarity. The story and script by newcomer Michael Diliberti offer some hilarious moments, but not the kind to leave you in tears or go down in memory as classic comedy. For most of its thankfully brief runtime, the movie will keep you smiling, accented by a few good chuckles. On the whole, though, it’s an entirely forgettable affair.

What works in the film is the chemistry between the actors. Given where their careers are now, seeing Eisenberg (an Oscar-nominee) paired with Ansari (a comedian on the rise) is definitely odd – but the two play off one another well and have some enjoyable banter. In scenes when he’s on his own, Eisenberg’s character Nick seems to be phoning it in when it comes to life, and Eisenberg himself seems to be phoning it in playing the part. At first Nick is a vacant and uninteresting character – when he’s facing danger, we get the usual Eisenberg neurotic schtick. Thankfully Ansari is on hand to deliver some actual funny quips and one-liners, proving yet again that comedic timing and charisma are not skills that just any actor can master. You need actual comedians to bring the funny.

McBride and Swardson are the other comedic pairing of the movie, and fall into much of the same category as Eisenberg/Ansari: Swardson (a rising comedian) actually brings some great laughs as an awkward and dopey sidekick, while McBride (an established star) seems like he’s phoning in an episode of his HBO series Eastbound & Down. The only difference between Dwayne and Kenny Powers, is that one character plays Major League Baseball in between his hair-brained schemes and self-deluded trash-talk. Paired together, however, the two dunderheads are amusing.

The real standout in the film is Michael Peña (Eastbound & Down, Observe and Report), who yet again makes a lot out of a little as the hitman “Chango,” a no-nonsense thug who quickly tires of all the idiots he’s dealing with. If there is one scene in the film that stands out in my memory, it’s definitely Peña’s bathroom mirror rant.

Danny McBride and Nick Swardson in 30 Minutes or Less 30 Minutes or Less Review

Danny McBride and Nick Swardson in '30 Minutes or Less'

One thing a dumb comedy shouldn’t do is make you question the technique of the man behind the camera; and yet, I found myself doing just that. The way Ruben Fleischer shoots the film is downright strange and often obtrusive – especially at the start. A lot of the shots in the first third of the film are so close and tight, and the editing so choppy, that it’s distracting to the eye. Later, Fleischer starts to play with stylistic shooting techniques like slow-rotating establishing shots, which were baffling in a film this silly. By the final third of the movie, Fleischer settled into more standard shooting methods, which was fortunate. On the whole, though, it felt like the director was using this as a throwaway film to experiment with his style.

In the end, 30 Minutes or Less is bland, silly, and the story is full of plot holes and dangling threads. The performances of the actors fill a few of the gaps with some moderate humor, but the direction is a distraction. This is a movie you would be safe (even better off) approaching as a rental, if not as a premium cable channel premiere.

If you want to make up your own mind about whether or not 30 Minutes or Less is worth your movie ticket money, watch the trailer below:

Our Rating:

2.5 out of 5
(Fairly Good)

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  1. Kofi,

    How do you compare this with “Your Highness?”

    • I didn’t see ‘Your Highness’ myself, but I would put it roughly in the same boat, based on our review.

      • Ahh, thanks.

        I was debating renting “Your Highness” or going spending 10 bucks to see this.

        • I’ve seen Your Highness and I saw 30 Minutes or Less today.
          They’re both equally funny, it just depends if you’re in the mood for a fantasy/epic-type movie. Some of the action scenes in Your Highness might not be as great on DVD.

          They’re both hilarious movies though.

      • The trailer for Your Highness made the film look like a good comedy much like this. But the movie was awful. The “comedy” in it was more the dirty language than anything else. But this is a completely different comedy isn’t it? Anyway, I’m quite disappointed with this movie if it’s as bad as you say. I will see it myself, but not in the cinema.

  2. well that’s kind of a bummer. still watch it at some point though

  3. wowww this is a major let down. this was the comedy i’ve been looking forward to all summer!

    • it’s based off three guys who tried to rip off a bank with a neck bomb. the “victim” was in on it.

      • Ruben Fleischer has addressed this before – and claims that it wasn’t based on the actual story at all. Though, there are some suspiciously close coincidences (specifically the motivation of the villains) that make it hard to entirely ignore. Personally, I believe him – because it’s hard to imagine anyone knowingly making a movie that could create this type of PR nightmare.

        @Brian – The guy who died was still a victim – he knowingly robbed the bank but didn’t realize the bomb was going to be real. Not exactly a champion of morality but still sad (if for no other reason than to see the lengths people will go for easy money). I’m sure he didn’t wake up that morning and think he’d be chained to a live bomb by his friends and then get blown-up on national television.

        • In a time where any publicity is good publicity, it’s hard to believe that this PR nightmare wasn’t foreseen and most likely embraced. It’s great that you have that optimism though. :)

  4. I’m surprised given how overly obsessed people have been with Jesse Eisenberg I thought it would get four stars be it good or bad simply because he was in it. Look at Social Network IMO horrible films got praised like crazy. I guess the love for it was more about Fincher.

    Thought from the trailer it looked to be good, but the over all take seems to be bad judging by this review and RT. To bad must be one of those movies where all the good stuff is in the trailer.

    • Social Network was spectacular. I share the same opinion as what, 95% of the people who’ve seen it?

      So… If the world loves it, then it must be you who either don’t know what to look for in a film, or just watched it in a bad mood.

      Be as it may, it definitely isn’t a bad movie.

      • Pete

        Come on man you know 95% is a huge huge over exaggeration. It was critically well received and over all more people liked it than didn’t, but not 95percent. That’s just a ridiculous over exaggeration. 95% of people can’t agree on anything let alone a movie.

        I know what to look for in a film and I was in a fine mood when i saw it. At the end of the day the acting wasn’t spectacular. The film was nothing more than a movie about the guy who made facebook. It was uninteresting and pointless. There was no need or use for the movie and I spent more time being bored while watching it than enjoying my self. The directing was the only part of the entire film worth praising. As always he directed perfectly. Sadly it was a film that simply had no reason to be made and his talents could of been used for something much better. Next up a movie about watching paint dry or you know the sequel to The Social Network thats about the same thing.

  5. I am a little bit sad it is not great but i will still check it out. i have been a fan of Jesse b4 the social network so ill give him the benefit of the doubt

  6. free – movies – on – line . com

  7. I saw the movie. Ansari (Parks and Recreation), Pena, and Sawrdson were really funny. If a reviewer keeps you from seeing a movie that is truly pathetic. There are really funny scenes and some duds. Not all movies are Oscar-worthy but escapism isn’t illegal. I enjoyed plenty. Some things like Danny McBride’s raunchy humor is not cool but I can handle that.

    • There is nothing at all pathetic about a reviewer keeping you from seeing a movie. Most people are not rich and cant afford to go and see every movie that comes out. So sometimes you depend on things like reviews to help you decide if you should spend your money. Especially with the economy as bad as it is right now. People need to try and save cash. That’s sort of the ponit of reviews to help people decide if a movie is worth it or not.

      If it’s a reviewer you almost always agree with than why not assume you will agree with him this time as well and save your money for something better?

      It’s far more pathetic to judge people based on how they decide to watch a movie.

    • And the award for dumbest comment of the week goes to….

      “If a reviewer keeps you from seeing a movie that is truly pathetic.”


      • Vic is on fire!

      • @Vic.. Ouch! That actually brought tears to my eyes. LOL.

        I broke down and check out the movie anyway. I laughed by butt off. Kofi is right about the two sets of chemistry. The guys played off one another very well.

        Nah, it wasn’t high brow comedy, but it was funnier than just what was showed in the trailers. I think you just have to like these guy’s type of humor and going in knowing you’re going to get more of the same.

        Michael Pena was the odd man out and he made his square peg fit in a round hole.

  8. ‎30 minutes or less: they put a bomb on a guy and tell him to rob a bank and steal $100,000 to pay a guy ho will kill their dad who has a fortune of $2 million which they will get in inheritance when he’s killed… why THE HECK didn’t they just tell him to rob the bank and get the $2 million?