I hate to be the one to tell you guys this, but I was kind of disappointed in Ruben Fleischer’s “30 Minutes or Less” especially after coming off of the highly entertaining “Zombieland”. Although I don’t know that all the blame can be put on Fleischer’s shoulders considering this is screenwriter Michael Diliberti’s first movie. A lot of the dialogue seemed extremely forced and I’m not sure if it was just Danny McBride channeling Kenny Powers or if that’s the way the script was truly written. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a teenager at heart so the use the foul language usually appeals to my more immature side, but in this case it almost became annoying… and I’m a huge fan of Kenny Powers. So I’m not quite sure who to blame, but the movie definitely fell flat for me on a number of levels.
For those of you that haven’t been watching TV for the last week and haven’t been blasted in the face by a million ads for it, “30 Minutes or Less” stars Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride and a slightly fatter version of Nick Swardson, as well as a supporting cast that includes Fred Ward, Michael Pena and Bianca Kajlich (“Rules of Engagement”). Eisenberg plays a pizza delivery boy who is forced by McBride and Swardson to rob a bank after they strap a bomb to his chest. McBride’s character, Dwayne, needs $100,000 in order to pay a hitman to kill his father so that he can collect his inheritance early in order to open up a tanning salon that doubles as a front for a prostitution ring. It sounds a little ridiculous, but it all works together pretty well from a story perspective, but the dialogue just fell short for me.
I know the movie isn’t supposed to be an oscar worthy film and it’s going to have rudimentary dialogue, but when it gets to the point where I almost cringe whenever Danny McBride opens his mouth, something is wrong. As Kenny Powers he can say some of the stupidest, most vulgar stuff you’ve ever heard in your life and it works because it’s smart and actually funny, but in this case he’s an idiot and it’s anything but smart. Even Jesse Eisenberg isn’t very likable in this one… and I like him as an actor. I know this isn’t “The Social Network”, but look at “Zombieland”, Jesse Eisenberg can be great in these types of roles, but I just wasn’t feeling him here. Nick Swardson is another one that I love and just seemed to get fat for this movie and wasn’t properly utilized. I will say though Aziz Ansari was pretty hilarious and Michael Pena was by far the saving grace of this flick. You’ll probably recognize Pena from movies like “Shooter”, “Battle Los Angeles”, “Observe and Report” and of course the 2nd season of “Eastbound and Down”. I actually saw an interview on G4 recently where he said that when he was first starting out people kept telling him that he wasn’t funny and he needed to just stop trying to do comedy, but dude is fucking funny. The only downside to him is that I get him and Jacob Vargas confused a lot, kind of like Josh Duhmel and Timothy Olyphant (I watched “The Crazies” and didn’t realize it wasn’t Josh Duhmel until hours after we left the theater). So keep your eye on Michael Pena as he really does steal the show. Oh, and Bianca Kajlich as a stripper was a great move, thank you.
So despite what it may seem like, I did actually enjoy the movie for the most part. It definitely wasn’t as funny as I was expecting based on the cast and the director [and even the trailers], but it was entertaining for the most part. I would really say that my biggest complaint was the use of/writing for Danny McBride and Nick Swardson. I honestly don’t think Swardson was even that funny until the very end. Oh, brief sidenote while we’re talking about Nick Swardson, the preview for his new movie “Bucky Larson: Born to be a Star” looks absolutely horrendous. [Check it out here]. Ok, back to the review. My girlfriend thought this one was better than “Pineapple Express”, but honestly I don’t think so. Unless you have a huge dislike for Seth Rogan and James Franco, “Express” is a much better action/comedy movie than “30 Seconds or Less”. And as far as any comparison to “Zombieland” goes I wouldn’t even rank these 2 on the same list. “Zombieland” is a far superior film and I would choose it over this one any day of the week. So give this one a chance when it comes out on DVD/Blu-Ray/Streaming/Whatever, but I wouldn’t take a trip to the theater to see it.