Tuesday, August 16, 2011

30 Minutes or Less

30 Minutes or Less just shouldn't work, but it does. It has the craziest plot I've heard in a long time- Dwayne (Danny McBride) and his bomb-expert friend Travis (Nick Swardson) want to murder Dwayne's father (Fred Ward) so they hire a hit-man (Michael Pena), but to pay the guy they have a pizza delivery boy named Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) rob a bank or else they will blow him up with the bomb they have strapped to his chest so Nick asks his friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) to help him out.

That's a mouthful of a concept. It is partially inspired by true events in which a pizza delivery man named Brian Douglas Wells walked into a bank with a bomb strapped to his chest and robbed the place only to be blown up (unlike the film, he was also in on the robbery with his co-conspirators). So how does Ruben Fleischer (director of Zombieland, another film where the idea succeeds better than expected) and writers Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan make it all work? I'm not so sure other than the obvious answer- I think they just did a good job of filmmaking. They realized what would work and somehow made me suspend disbelief. This is like if Adam McKay (the modern-day master of absurd commercial comedies) made a more grounded film.

The cast does a good job with this witty script and the chemistry between the two pairs (Eisenberg and Ansari, McBride and Swardson) is handled well and then you throw in Michael Pena and it could only get better. Eisenberg is such a talented actor (having done a variety of roles such as his work from The Squid and the Whale, Adventureland, and The Social Network) and Fleischer knows how to direct him as the two worked together on Zombieland to great acclaim. Ansari (Parks and Recreation) and McBride (Eastbound and Down, Pineapple Express) are always funny, but I was never crazy about Swardson's style of comedy. Then again, even if he is the weakest link, he isn't half-bad since his character mostly follows Dwayne around and bounces off of what he says.

The film is as fast-paced as it is laugh-out-loud funny where every character has about two flaws for every thing they can actually be good at. This film doesn't need charm or redeeming moments, it's too damn funny to worry about being something that wouldn't fit with the story.

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