The last time I saw a film about bank robbing was when The Town was in theaters, and I don’t know about you but my self-emanating laugh track was not in danger of being worn out that day. 30 Minutes or Less goes for the apposing drama mask for its take on the heist film genre, creating a decent comedy structured around a simple and ridiculous premise.
The basic story follows numerous unmotivated characters, one a pizza deliverer and the other a man-child living off of his father’s wealth. As children do, Dwayne decides to make a life for himself, but instead of doing the usual job search he decides to hire a hitman to knock off his dad, thus coming into millions of dollars. Unfortunately hitmen tend to want their money up front (at least I think so… Is that how hitmen work?). Long story short these two slackers meet when Nick delivers a pizza to Dwayne and his partner in crime Travis, who just so happened to bring chloroform to the party. When Nick wakes up he has a bomb strapped to his chest and is given the mission to rob a bank.
I know it seems like a broken record at this point, I am even getting sick of watching myself continually type praise for Bridesmaids, but let’s face it, that movie was phenomenal. The problem is I am starting to really wonder if it has ruined other comedies for me. In times past it is possible that I would have peed my pants laughing at a film like this, but now 30 Minutes or Less pales in comparison, no matter the amount of laughs it gets. Then again, maybe my tastes in comedy have started to shy away from what plenty of these films have to offer (take last week’s The Change-Up as an example). Then again, maybe it just wasn’t that great.
30 Minutes or Less starts out rather slow for me as the characters are introduced, thanks in large part to the overused pot smoking, sexual jokes, and overabundance of unnecessary profanity (I am starting to feel like an old person). The fear of spending the next 1.5 hours watching yet another unoriginal comedy started to set in, but luckily enough I can say that it didn’t last throughout the entirety.
Now back to The Town for a brief moment. Why those characters were so successful at what they did (until they weren’t) was a little something called preparation. Nick is not so lucky in the sense that the only knowledge he has of bank robberies comes from what his best friend remembers from a movie. Bad for him, great for us. Once the bomb is strapped to Nick’s chest and he teams up with his best friend, Chet, I was finally able to get back into the film because the plot became highly reactive to the constantly evolving situations. There is no plan, no point A to point B path to take, just a point A and a swift kick from the nest.
As entertaining as the film is, the cast is the cause of why it isn’t just worthy of a “meh” reaction on my part. In all honesty Danny McBride’s character wasn’t that great for me, nor was Jesse Eisenberg considering the other roles I have seen him in, but each of these two have a partner in crime that lead to great moments within the pairs. McBride plays off Nick Swardson, who is a really hard character to read thanks to his conscience that counters a lot of the actions he is asked to take. In addition to Swardson, Aziz Ansari would probably have to be my favorite performer in the movie and helps Eisenberg in their scenes together, whether it be through scripted dialog or adlibbing. Lastly, another great performance comes from Michael Peña as the hired help, throwing yet another obstacle in the way as he impatiently waits for his payment to come through.
If you have similar tastes to me then there is a good chance that you won’t be blown away by 30 Minutes or Less. It will still be amusing enough to make it worth seeing once, but its repeat value is far less than some other comedies of the year (That’s right, I got Bridesmaids in there again! It’s awesome! [Gets lost in a moment of glorious reminiscing]).
Final Grade: B- Follow @BewareOfTrees