Manhattan-based HE reader Chris attended last night’s GenArts screening of 30 Minutes or Less (Sony, 8.12) and came away mildly pleased, calling it a “fun comedy worth checking out.” But costar Danny McBride, he says, “proves once again that less is more with him…he has some funny moments, but also had many parts that fell flat and were met with near-silence.”
Pic is “loosely based on an unusual bank robbery which occurred on August 28, 2003 in Erie, Pennsylvania,” says the Wiki page, “in which pizza delivery man Brian Wells was killed when a bomb fastened to his neck detonated once he was apprehended by police.”
Synopsis: “After hiring an assassin to murder his father for his insurance money, the antagonist, Dwayne (Danny McBride), and partner in crime Travis (Nick Swardson), kidnap a pizza delivery guy named Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) and force him to rob a bank while wearing a bomb vest attached to a 10-hour timer.”
Chris says “the entire premise is absurd, of course…it’s a little strange how Eisenberg’s character is chosen to pull of the heist. But if you don’t get too caught up in these things and can accept the basic premise, there’s a good time to be had.
“Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari are the highlights, and their interplay as best friends with some baggage is a lot of fun. Not exactly groundbreaking stuff, but these guys make it work.
“I didn’t fully buy into the inherent danger of what was happening at all times, but then again I’m not sure I was supposed to. I didn’t see Zombieland, but enjoyed this enough to check it out, which qualifies as a recommendation in my book.”
I asked “what are the big knockout scenes that really work?”, etc.
“The bank robbery scene and the leadup to tjhat were my favorite scenes, with a few legitimately hilarious beats,” he said. “The whole thing is a credit to Eisenberg and Ansari playing two guys who are gaining an excessive amount of confidence as they go along, yet are still clearly amateurs at this whole crime thing. Their interplay throughout made the movie for me, and its the best thing about it by far.
“Another highlight is Michael Pena as the hitman hired to kill McBride’s father. There’s also a little love story involving Eisenberg and Ansari’s twin sister, that doesn’t hurt the movie, but isn’t important other to bring conflict between the two friends.
“Again, the thing that drags the movie down is McBride. I really enjoy Eastbound and Down, but that character is perfect for that show. Trying to apply that archetype character to so many other vehicles is a huge mistake. In the end the character he plays in this is just a pathetic loser, not exactly what you want from one of your main characters even if he’s supposed to be inept.
“When 30 Minutes or Less is ‘on’ it’s really firing on all cylinders. It just can’t keep that going consistently the whole way through. It’s a movie that tops out at ‘decent’ and holds that level.”