Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer returns to the comedy genre with the buddy-buddy comedy 30 Minutes or Less starring Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari. Fleischer successfully makes a high stakes comedy that provides just the right amount of laughs and action. Eisenberg continues to show his wide variety of talent coming off of The Social Network and Ansari steps up to the plate as an actor and plays his biggest role yet. Danny McBride and Nick Swardson help darken the mood and keep the stupid comedy front and center. 30 Minutes or Less is a quick and painless comedy that relies on its ensemble of idiots to keep the viewer both at the edge of their seat and periodically laughing.
Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a pizza boy working for minimum wage. He hates his job, but has settled for it because he doesn’t really care about much of anything else. He has a best friend named Chet (Aziz Ansari) and other then Chet the only person that really matters in his life is Chet’s sister Kate. Chet isn’t too fond of Nick having the hots for his sister and he confronts him about it which leads to the two of them telling each other some really ugly, nasty things they’ve done to each in the past. This causes their friendship to come to a brief hiatus.
While out delivering pizzas Nick is jumped by two dumb asses named Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson). Dwayne and Travis have a not so genius idea to strap a bomb to an innocent man, have him rob a bank so they can use the stolen money to hire a hit man to kill Dwayne’s wealthy father.
The bomb is placed on Nick and he has 10 hours to come up with 100 thousand dollars or else it will explode. Nick goes to the only friend that he sort of has left, Chet and explains the situation and begs for his help. Chet and Nick decide that the only way to get the money fast is to rob a bank.
That sounds like a pretty awesome idea for a comedy/action film right? An easy enough story to follow with some great comedic talent thrown into the mix directed by the guy that made the breakout hit Zombieland. 30 Minutes or Less has absolutely no problems setting up and delivering on the story end of things. In fact it does so in a timely manner. It takes literally minutes for it to start going and from that point it cruises just as fast as Eisenberg flies in a Mustang to deliver pizzas. Before you know it the ending credits are rolling and you’re walking out of the theater.
It almost works too fast though. Jokes come at you like a spread of bullets from a machine gun. They’re funny the first time around, but you’re not left with much to laugh at. Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari have good enough chemistry to make their relationship struggle believable. Most of their exchanged jokes don’t provide much impact though. They come at you quick and evoke a couple of chuckles.
The real laughter comes from Danny McBride and Nick Swardson. The only problem with that is most people are getting sick of McBride’s usual shtick. He tends to work on the same grounds in most of his films. He’s always full of himself and constantly dropping pure toilet humor. I find it hilarious, but most people find it incredibly dumb. If you enjoy his Eastbound & Down character then you’ll enjoy his character in 30 Minutes or Less, but if you don’t then this will just be an exercise of your patience.
Swardson and McBride play the two biggest morons in the world and they play it with just the right amount of comedy. They’re the bad guys, but they’re not people you can’t sort of root for. When things start to get serious for Eisenberg’s character the hate is shifted off of Swardson and McBride and instantly placed upon Michael Pena, who provides enough awkward laughs in his small role as the hit man. It’s almost like director Ruben Fleischer knew where the comedy was and he didn’t want to jeopardize it.
He keeps the jokes coming a mile a minute from Ansari and Eisenberg, but the real laughs come from McBride and Swardson’s encounters. Once they wear their welcome in comes Pena for the save to regulate the jokes and progress the story to its final moments.
30 Minutes or Less in my opinion is superior to Zombieland strictly speaking comedy. It doesn’t touch Zombieland in the creativity department because I’ve never seen a film that managed to please both the gore-hounds who wanted an awesome zombie movie and the comedy fans that just wanted a true laugh. 30 Minutes or Less is more of a straight forward stupid comedy, but it achieves all of the goals it sets out for because of its great ensemble cast of characters.
Sony rarely fumbles the ball when it comes to new release titles on Blu-Ray. 30 Minutes or Less continues the trend providing yet another clean and crisp 1080p transfer. I almost feel like a broken record when I comment on how fine the detail is and how much the colors come to life on Blu-Ray, but lately the studios have really been on the ball. Skin tones are natural and almost anything that needs detail is given it. Since this is a comedy most of the camera shots are focused on faces and detail is never lost. You’ll see all the hairs in McBride’s goatee and all the grease on a pizza that Eisenberg tries so hard to deliver.
The audio is also a winner. The 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track almost instantly starts with a bang during the opening credits. All of the songs on the soundtrack are loud and clear, spreading across all the channels. Dialogue keeps focused on the front channels and the few explosions and scenes of action open up the back channels to keep you constantly engaged. This isn’t the loudest track, since most of the film is a basic comedy, but when the action picks up so does the audio.
30 Minutes or Less comes to Blu-Ray with your standard batch of extras. The disc contains a solid video commentary, forgettable deleted scenes and a few behind-the-scenes features that offer a look into the production, but don’t really add much to the experience. They’re good features, but they seem a tad on the boring side considering the comedic talent at Fleischer’s disposal. Check out the full list below.
- Picture-in-Picture Video Commentary
- Blowing Up with the Cast & Crew of 30 Minutes or Less (HD)
- The Perfect Crime: Action and Comedy in 30 Minutes or Less (HD)
- Deleted Scenes (HD)
- Outtakes (HD)
- Previews (HD)
One thing worth noting is the replay value. I found 30 Minutes or Less to be absolutely hilarious in theaters. At the time it was one of the funnier films I’ve seen this year, but watching it again on Blu-Ray I noticed I didn’t laugh nearly as much as I originally did. Comedies are tricky monsters though. I’m easily entertained the first time around for most, but if they can’t stand up against the repeat viewing then we got problems. 30 Minutes or Less doesn’t completely drop the ball the second time around, but it becomes just another funny comedy that doesn’t waste your time.
The pacing is what really makes the film hard to bag on. The talent has no problems making you laugh and Fleischer can properly put together a film that’s a hybrid of two separate genre’s, but it’s the sonic speed pacing of the film that makes the viewing painless whether you liked it or not. It never has a dull moment where it drags its feet. It’s always making you laugh or making you wonder where the action is going to take you next. Considering the talent one might expect something a little more memorable, but the end result isn’t half bad.
The Blu-Ray has no problems picking up the slack. The video and audio are great and the disc features enough special features for those looking to kill a little more time. 30 Minutes or Less is an easy rental suggestion and a cheap enough purchase for fans of Eisenberg, Ansari or McBride.
30 Minutes or Less is more of a straight forward stupid comedy, but it achieves all of the goals it sets out for because of its great ensemble cast of characters.