30 Minutes Or Less Review

Film Still
  • 30 Minutes Or Less film still


A second collaboration from the star and director of Zombieland, but without the concept, character or cameos.

As is becoming more common by the day, the best way to grasp deadbeat heist comedy 30 Minutes or Less is to look at how it treats not its male protagonists, but its female supporting characters.

There are only a handful of women in the film, and only two are given names in the credits. One of them is Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria), the pretty, ambitious city professional who just can’t tear herself away from lead loser Nick (an improbable Jesse Eisenberg). The other is a callous stripper called Juicy (Bianca Kajlich), who seduces slacker extraordinaire Dwayne (Danny McBride) into formulating a plan to bump off his rich father.

Hackneyed caricatures, both, but at least they’re not relegated to the role of ‘Hot Girl’ or, heaven forbid, a cameo as the pliant chick who gives Nick’s best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) a supposedly uncomfortable, front-seat blowjob.

It’s not that the gents are any better filled out, but 30 Minutes or Less is entirely focused on their world, and is only interested in their manchildish dilemmas, exploring the conflict between laziness and responsibility while joyfully celebrating a lifestyle of film marathons, Call of Duty and Mountain Dew.

This is nothing new, and there’s a faint air of phoned-in apathy both in the script’s references to Point Break and Die Hard, and the film’s reliance on McBride and Ansari’s unrelenting mugging, which stretch scenes way beyond their breaking point.

Indeed, while the film is over in 90 minutes or less, half of that is flab, as the overworked plot – Dwayne kidnaps Nick, straps a bomb to his chest, and forces him to rob a bank on his behalf – is laid out in painful slow-motion. After all that build-up, the bank job is part-farce, part-chaos, as Chet gibbers and Nick sweats under pressure, and a much-foreshadowed car chase is curtailed.

It all lacks the fun-seeking thrills of director Ruben Fleischer’s previous film, Zombieland. That, too, starred Eisenberg, but whereas he was in his element there – a neurotic nerd in a world gone Romero – here he flounders. This is a major misstep for both; let’s hope they can bounce back.

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