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This Week's Movie Review30 Minutes or Less
Four stars

POSTED BY MICHAEL A. SMITH, August 11, 2011    Share

Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride and Aziz Ansari
Directed by: Ruben Fleischer
Rated: R
Running time: 1 hour 23 mins

In August 2003, a 45 year old pizza delivery man named Brian Wells walked into a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania with a bomb strapped to his chest and attempted to rob it. Foiled by the police, Wells told the cops that the bomb had been forcibly strapped to him by several men who ordered him to rob the bank. If he didn’t bring them the money the bomb would explode. Not believing Wells, the police detained him. BOOM! Not the type of story you’d think one would make a comedy about but the creators of “30 Minutes or Less” have done just that.

Nick (Eisenberg) is a young slacker with no drive. When he’s not home playing video games he’s delivering pizzas around town. Due to his company’s “30 Minutes or Less or your pizza is free” policy he can usually be found running red lights and speeding excessively. He has two friends: schoolteacher Chet (Ansari) and his twin sister, Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria), who he is desperately in love with. When Kate shows surprise that Nick isn’t on Facebook he replies that he’s completely “off the grid,” a nice nod to Eisenberg’s Oscar nominated performance as Facebook co-creator Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network.” As Nick drives aimlessly from one address to another, across town 30-something Dwayne (McBride) is aimlessly blowing up things with the help of his friend Travis (Nick Swardson), a master of all things technical. Dwayne lives at home with his lottery winning father, a former Marine referred to as the Major (Fred Ward). The Major can’t stand Travis’ lazy ways. Travis can’t stand the fact that the Major is blowing through the winnings he’s hoping to inherit. One way to hasten that inheritance is to have the Major killed. But a hit man costs money.

Continuously funny from start to end, “30 Minutes or Less” rides on the talents of it’s cast. Eisenberg, who managed to make Mark Zuckerberg seem almost likable, is off beat as Nick. It’s a persona he has down to a tee and he conveys it well. As Chet, Ansari is both the voice of reason and the voice of mayhem. No matter how hard he tries to convince Nick to go to the police he continues to feed on the high of helping his friend pull off the heist, suggesting they follow the plan devised in the movie “Point Break.” Swardson has made a career of playing slightly vacuous characters (“Grandma’s Boy,” “Blades of Glory”) and does the same here. As the hit man for hire, Michael Pena shows a talent for comedy. But the star here is McBride. His dim, fantasy-world-living Travis gives the film its best laughs. Between his recent on-screen work and his performance as Kenny Powers in HBOs’ “Eastbound and Down,” he may be the funniest actor working these days. To play off the title of the film, Danny McBride delivers!

In case you were wondering, it turned out that Brian Wells was a willing participant in the bank robbery mentioned above, though speculation remains that he didn’t know the bomb was real. His co-conspirators were eventually apprehended and are serving the next few decades in federal prison. Maybe they’ll get a chance to see “30 Minutes or Less” on “movie night.”

This Week's Movie Review of "30 Minutes or Less" is ©2011 by Mike Smith. All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2011 by Nolan B. Canova.

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