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30 Minutes or Less (2011)

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Score: 7/10

Genre: Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 23 min.

Release Date: August 12th, 2011 MPAA Rating: R

Director: Ruben Fleischer Actors: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Dilshad Vadsaria, Michael Pena, Bianca Kajlich

T

hough it won’t win any awards for its plot, “30 Minutes or Less” does excel in the department it clearly directs all its efforts toward – dialogue. The script provides plenty of hilarious and offbeat situations for its slew of miscreant characters to immerse themselves into and it’s here where the laughs emerge. The double duos of protagonists and antagonists trade insults and colorful verbiage in a rapid-fire exchange of vulgarities and insights. While the crudeness oftentimes outweighs the overtly funny, praise does go to the actors who dish out the majority of their lines as if improvising – it’s possible most if it actually is ad libbed, but either way these random rants paired with the stars’ idiosyncratic characterizations successfully deliver the laughs.

Enraged at his callous, militaristic father, Dwayne (Danny McBride) determines to rid himself of the old man and collect his inheritance early. Scheming with his best friend Travis (Nick Swardson), Dwayne decides to hire an assassin to do the deed. To pay the hitman (Michael Pena) his fee, the duo kidnaps pizza delivery boy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), straps a bomb to his chest and tells him he has ten hours to rob a bank or else he’ll blow up. Fearful for his life, Nick enlists his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) to aid in his newfound criminal endeavor and the inept pair set about planning the heist as well as plotting a way to escape their dire situation.

The dialogue is the highlight of the film, making splendid use of five comedians’ abilities to ramble, insult and spout profanity in an improvised, on-the-spot manner. It’s vulgar, blunt and abrasive, which works effectively with this collaboration. Words never get minced. With such a simplistic, one-note plot, it’s essential that these goofs eat up screentime with their hilarious arguing. Danny McBride uses his trademark, bitter, disgruntled attitude to craft a spiteful villain, while Eisenberg plays his typical, expressionless, quick-worded, depressed underdog. Aziz Ansari’s major role marks a first for the TV veteran, and he matches wit and sarcasm with the more seasoned movie jokers – so too does Nick Swardson as the particularly dim-witted accomplice. Everyone’s chemistry is amusing and the group emotes like good friends gathering together for a night of wild story swapping.

Despite a bungled hold-up, negotiations, renegotiations, spontaneous decisions, altered plans and makeshift money drops, the plot is so basic that it serves only as a setup for verbal humor. Like “Pineapple Express,” the funny men decide to also throw some serious predicaments into the festivities, which results in a bit of bloodshed that seems out of place. Dwayne is also so despicable and unredeemable that when the violence begins, the audience isn’t likely to care whether or not he lives through the ordeals. Mortality doesn’t have a place in this world of inept kidnappers, inept bank robbers and inept assassins, even though the occasional dosage of realism dictates its presence.

– The Massie Twins

 



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