Friday, August 12, 2011

30 Minutes or Less

It’s called “30 Minutes or Less.” It could be subtitled “The time it will take you to flee from the theater after the movie starts.”
The premise sounds funny. Unhappy pizza delivery guy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) delivers to two apes (well, ape-mask wearing idiots played by Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) who have decided to hire a hit man to kill one of their fathers (Fred Ward). The problem: they have no money, especially not $100,000. So why not kidnap someone (Nick), strap a bomb on him, and send him off to rob a bank. When he delivers the money to them, he’ll get the code to shut off the bomb’s timer.
Nick enlists the help of his best friend (Aziz Ansari trapped in a movie unworthy of him) to rob the bank. There’s a stripper and a girl Nick likes (who happens to be his friend’s sister).
What went wrong? Not the bank robbery. Just everything else.
The movie (mercifully short at 1 hour 23 minutes) is a series of cobbled-together scenes, some of which attempt humor (rarely succeeding).
First, I don’t fault Eisenberg or Ansari, or Michael Pena as the hit man. They are pretty good actors, but should choose their vehicles better.
Speaking of vehicles, there are a couple of good car chases in this, but that hardly makes up for the rest of it. Perhaps the funniest scene is the opening one in which Nick gives two bratty kids their comeuppance.
Here’s the thing. I couldn’t concentrate on the plot, or even any “laughs,” because my senses were being constantly bombarded with the F-bomb and all its variations. Every single character in the film uses the terms profusely, every other word. The only time there’s relief from that word, is when they are uttering every other crude word or phrase they can think up, and some that they apparently did think up!
If a normal comedy script is somewhere around 95 pages, and you took out the profane words in this script, it would probably be about 20 pages long. And about that complicated.
Yes, there are a few twists, but not enough to justify the foul-mouthed mess.
Reading some reviews on Rotten Tomatoes (where it scored a low 45%) I couldn’t believe one writer actually said, “rude good fun without excessive raunch.” Huh? How about another writer, who declared, “One of the great disappointments of my cinematic year so far.” More like it.
I’m giving this a reluctant 1 reel (out of 4).

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