The gorilla is harmless. The bomb he is carrying is not.
The group of twentysomethings sitting in front us at 30 Minutes Or Less were, judging from their manner of laughter and general behavior, stoned. 30 Minutes Or Less is the perfect movie for anyone in this state. The good news is that it will appeal to the rest of us as well, so long as you check any expectations for sophistication and decorum at the door.
Directed by Ruben Fleischer, who applied a similar breakneck speed in his last film, Zombieland, 30 Minutes Or Less clocks in at eighty-three minutes. The premise is based in part on a real life incident: Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pizza delivery guy who gets kidnapped by Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) so he can rob a bank for them. To give Nick extra motivation for the task, Dwayne and Travis strap a bomb to him. Nick turns to his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari, bulging his eyes as wide as they will go) for help. Gorilla costumes, pen guns, flame throwers and other general hijinks ensue.
If the movie doesn’t quite hang together, it’s no fault of the four leading men, who are given ample opportunity to trade asinine banter and disparage one another. (A scene involving McBride and Swardson watching a 3-D version of Friday The 13th is one of the high points of the film.) The one who seems slightly adrift is Eisenberg. His characters typically exude intelligence — it’s why he was a natural as Mark Zuckerberg — but here we’re asked to believe that he’s never aspired to more than a dead-end pizza delivery job. It’s fun seeing his character slowly come to life by embracing his persona as a bank robber/gangster, but not nearly as much fun as watching Chet dis one of his elementary school students, or Dwayne act exactly the way you’ve come to expect a Danny McBride character to act. (In short: loudly, lewdly and stupidly.)
30 Minutes Or Less seems to be aiming for Fargo territory: two sinister, largely incompetent bad guys corrupt one good one and everything more or less goes wrong. Fargo plumbed the darker corners of the human psyche; 30 Minutes just wants to make sport of them. 30 Minutes is both funny and crude, but you won’t spend an 84th minute thinking about it. It made for a breezy Saturday night, so we’re not complaining. Neither are the stoners.