REVIEW: 30 Minutes or Less

10 08 2011

Comparison sucks, especially when you invite yourself to be judged against a fantastically entertaining comedic marvel like “Zombieland.”  While Ruben Fleischer’s directorial debut was a fun, creative comedy, his second go-round,”30 Minutes or Less,” is exactly the opposite.  It feels like something Adam Sandler didn’t have time to squeeze in his schedule between “The Waterboy” and “Big Daddy.”

It’s full of stupid, expected gags that produce some mild laughs, but we’re long past the point of diminishing returns with these worn-out premises.  Not to mention it’s disappointing to watch two emerging comedic stars and one very funny serious actor fail to breathe any sort of energy into this limp vehicle for cheap humor.  The movie is hardly bad by anyone’s standards, and summer 2011 has seen a lot worse in this genre (cough, “The Change-Up“).  But as I often add on middling movies, there have been a lot better (case in point, “Bridesmaids“), and if you just HAVE to watch something funny, this may provide a little more than the minimum satisfaction level you need to make your time and money worthwhile.

The movie serves up double the buddy comedy as moronic pals Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) strap a homemade bomb to unsuspecting pizza boy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) in order to make him rob a bank so they can pay a crazed assassin (Michael Peña) to put the hit on Dwayne’s dad.  Reeling, Nick hits up his friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) – while he is teaching middle schoolers no less – to help him commit a multitude of criminal acts.  As their day spirals out of control and into the realm of the farcical, the wild ride of both pair of companions manages to garner a few decent (albeit cheap) laughs.

I sincerely hope that Ansari and McBride just took this movie hoping it would be a simple, easy way to attract viewers to their struggling TV shows, “Parks & Recreation” and “Eastbound and Down,” respectively.  I only watch the former, which is absolutely hysterical, but I really don’t think that “30 Minutes or Less” is going to do them any favors.  If anything, it downplays their incredible comedic prowess which Ansari has shown in every scene he steals as Tom Haverford on Thursday nights and McBride has shown in countless on-screen supporting roles that steal the thunder away from the leads.  I just wish Ansari could have hung a sign from his neck that says “WATCH ME ON PARKS AND RECREATION, THURSDAY NIGHTS ON NBC.”  Then he would have gotten the right kind of attention.

Jesse Eisenberg doesn’t have the kind of comedic dynamite that the two aforementioned actors have, so he compensates with a Woody Allen-esque neuroticism that mostly compensates.  Thanks to “The Social Network,” we all know he can act, so it’s not like he has anything to prove anymore.  And as long as he throws in a tongue-in-cheek to Facebook at least once in every movie, I’ll always laugh.

Meanwhile, Nick Swardson just needs to go back to writing dumpy, forgettable comedies like “30 Minutes or Less.”  (For those curious, he’s the one responsible for “The Benchwarmers.”)  His on-screen presence is dreadful, and as long as comedy is his choice genre, he will get overshadowed time and time again by people like Danny McBride.  There’s really no reason to make these movies any worse than they already are on the page, and Swardson is robbing greater talent the chance to make this trite string of tropes more satisfying.  C+ / 

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4 responses

10 08 2011
Steven Flores

I would like to see this but the presence of Nick Swardson is the one thing that’s keeping me from seeing this. The guy is extremely un-funny. Have you seen the trailer for the movie he’s going to star in where he’s a porn star?

It’s beyond dreadful.

10 08 2011
Marshall

Yes, it looks deplorable. Don’t expect a review from me, I’m no masochist.

14 08 2011
CMrok93

It’s utterly chaotic in its plotting, but 30 Minutes Or Less gets a pass because it manages to elicit enough stupid belly laughs. Also, I’m glad Ansari has finally got his shot at playing a leading role and absolutely stole the show. Nice Post Marshall!

20 08 2011
5plitreel

It feels like something Adam Sandler didn’t have time to squeeze in his schedule between “The Waterboy” and “Big Daddy.”

Now THAT is .. harsh. Haven’t seen this though … : – )

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