Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) need to raise a hundred grand, as they plan to hire a hitman (Michael PeŮa) to rub out Dwayneís rich tool of a father (Fred Ward), thereby allowing Dwayne to inherit his old manís fortune. So they kidnap slacker pizza delivery boy Nick (Jess Eisenberg) and strap a bomb to his chest, informing him he has ten hours to raise the cash or theyíll blow him into little pieces. They suggest he rob a local bank, and Nick talks his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) into lending a hand with the heist. The robbery goes down easily; itís afterwards that things start to fall apart.
30 Minutes or Less is half of an entertaining movie. Most of the stuff with Eisenberg and Ansari is funny and enjoyable, but most of the stuff with McBride and Swardson is unfunny and interminable. Thatís more or less what I was expecting.
As much as I hate to knock a local boy, Iíve grown tired of McBride over the years. He seems capable of doing one thing and one thing only, and that one thing quickly got old. If youíve seen him in Tropic Thunder or Pineapple Express, thereís no need to see him in Eastbound & Down or Hot Rod, as thereís little or no variety. As for Swardson, excepting Reno 911!, I find him insufferable. Heís funny if heís wearing roller skates and swapping tacos for sexual favors from strange men, not the least bit funny when doing anything else.
Their scenes together here largely consist of McBride doing his phony-tough shtick and Swardson doing his schlub bit. And theyíre allowed to riff to their heartsí content; occasionally theyíll squeeze out a funny line (such as when Travis thinks an abortion clinic is what Dwayne means when he suggests they a business that earns a lot of money and caters to attractive women), but most of itís tired and obvious (thereís an art to making a good ďthatís what she saidĒ joke, and these guys arenít up to the task). I kept wishing PeŮaís character would take over as the movieís threat, as heís twice as funny as McBride and Swardson put together (the way he introduces himself to Ward is classic).
I donít know if Eisenberg and Ansari stuck to the script or are simply better improvisers (although Iím pretty sure Ansari is), but they get most of the laughs (and all of the big ones). Theyíre both too obviously intelligent to be playing guys this dumb (and itís weird watching Ansari try to play straight man), but theyíre a hell of a lot of fun together, bluffing and stumbling their way through the dangerous stuff and plowing through the banter. Yeah, itís pretty standard stuff, hitting all the same beats youíd expect from a relationship between guys of this age and background (it probably helps if you can relate), but it works well enough. If they donít exactly keep the movie afloat, Eisenberg and Ansari keep at least half of it above water.
It would be easy to say the riffing overwhelms the story, but I doubt the story (which may or may not have been inspired by a true story [which may have not been all that true]) was all that special to begin with. The script is awkwardly constructed, moving in fits and starts; when it moves, it really moves, but the lulls arenít so much slow spots as they are dead stops. The movie runs 83 minutes (thatís with the credits), but thanks to all of that dragging it still manages to feel long. Where the pacing is concerned, the sequences leading up to and following the robbery are the most problematic. The former contains far too many scenes of Nick and Chet driving around, Dwayne and Travis tailing them in order to keep tabs. The final act is when the movie suddenly decides to get plotty, piling situation upon situation and bringing in too many characters, and that absolutely kills the momentum. Thatís a problem that affects a lot of movies that attempt to combine action and comedy (it happened with Zombieland, the first feature from this movieís director, Ruben Fleischer), but Iíll be damned if Iíve learned to grin and bear it.
Were the movie funnier than it is, all--or at least some--of this might be easier to overlook or ignore altogether. But given that it involves what could pass for a viable plot (in other words, itís more Beverly Hills Cop than Caddyshack), it should have had a tighter, better constructed script, but not so tight that some (good) improvisation couldnít have been mixed in. This is yet another action-comedy in which the comedy and story are half-baked and the action (particularly an incredibly well staged car chase) ends up being more memorable than anything else. I wasnít expecting 48HRS., but I was certainly hoping for something more than Another 48HRS.
The 2.40:1 anamorphic transfer affords the movie a fantastic presentation; the flaws are minor, amounting to little more than some moirť and aliasing here and there. Thereís nothing stylized about the cinematography, which is something of a surprise; the movie has a completely normal look, and the transfer accurately reflects this, rendering the natural colors with ease and never faltering when the lightning scheme shifts (often radically) with each change in location. Standard-def or not, this is a very impressive effort.
The movieís sound mix is a little spotty and uneven, and so is this discís Dolby Digital 5.1 audio (in English, French, Spanish, and Audio Description varieties). The action scenes are enjoyably loud and noisy, but non-action scenes are front-heavy and colorless. Dialogue sounds fine, although it does occasionally get eclipsed by the music (using ďThe Heat is OnĒ is a bit much), which gets cranked. Low-end action is surprisingly strong; gunshots and explosions pack some serious punch. English, English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles are available.
If youíre wondering where all of the extras are, theyíre on the Blu-ray. Okay, thatís not true, but the movieís high-def release has been shown a little more love in the supplements department. What you get here amounts to:
Blowing Up with the Cast & Crew of 30 Minutes or Less (15 minutes) is your standard EPK-style making of featurette.
Ten wisely deleted scenes (11 minutes total) help fill gaps that didnít need filling.
Outtakes (6 minutes) offer up longwinded improvs and seemingly endless riffing.
Itís definitely not worth buying, and I suppose you could argue itís not even worth seeing, but if you do want to see it, a rental is definitely the way to go.