Normally a movie that follows a pizza boy and his loud-mouthed compadre as they do battle with two miscreants whose only ambitions are to be wildly wealthy and blow things up would garner little more than an exasperated sigh. At its core, it’s little better than the conversations you might hear in a high school parking lot. However, when you add Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride and Nick Swardson along with some surprisingly decent action scenes filled with flamethrowers and car chases, you get something base, rude and completely hilarious. Just don’t attempt to watch it with your mother. At the heart of the Ruben Fleischer’s follow-up to the uproarious Zombieland, we find Nick (Eisenberg), a delivery boy at a pizzeria specializing in getting their pies to customers in, well, 30 Minutes or Less. Nick’s lack of motivation keeps him in his crappy job, where he excels at speeding and driving like a poor man’s Steve McQueen. Contrastingly, his roommate Chet (Ansari), seems to have it together, moving up from substitute to fulltime teacher, though he still manages to infuse that frat-boy sensibility into his teaching style (we can’t expect too much realism from a flick like this, folks). When Nick admits he’s got a thing for Chet’s sister, and that he already acted on it, the friendship immediately falls apart. This all feels a little forced, though Ansari and Eisenberg are funnier when they’re at odds, so it’s a necessary — albeit awkward — step.
As the opposing duo we find Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Swardson), two country bumpkin pyrotechnical enthusiasts who earn money to obliterate watermelons and teddy bears by cleaning Dwayne’s father’s pool. Tired of only slightly mooching off The Major, Dwayne formulates a plan to get rid of him entirely, he just needs to fund it. Enter the pizza boy. One delivery call delivers Nick to the hapless duo’s Podunk compound where they strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank. And we’re off.
The dueling duos work surprisingly well. While Eisenberg’s dramatic acting lends weight to the gravity of his predicament, Ansari’s spastic, cartoonish reactions bring us to a light enough place that we can laugh at something that should be nothing short of mortifying. Swardson’s sweet, innocent, misguided pyromaniac (this is a completely accurate description, I assure you) pairs with McBride’s tried and true full-on rakish, mulleted brute to create a couple whose failure we’re anticipating more than a good-guy victory. None of them are stepping outside of the schtick we know them for — if anything, they’ve all just honed their typical brands of comedy — but since Swardson, Ansari and McBride are still on the rise, it’s to be expected. By the time the plot spins out of control, so do our duos, but in an enjoyably haphazard way.
Fleischer’s fast-paced quick cuts aren’t exactly cinematic and lend a seedy, weasely feel to the film, but it works. We speed through the plot like Nick’s beat up hunk-a-junk car, stopping only to guffaw at more than a few embarrassingly funny moments. Rampant with dick jokes and the sorts of conversations that would get you detention in middle school, 30 Minutes or Less is decidedly and almost proudly lowbrow. It will offend many, make others squirm and furrow some brows, but for those that can reconcile their own morality for long enough to laugh at a few characters being complete and total idiots, it’s a funny, speedy, wild ride.
Hollywood.com rated this film 3 stars.-Kelsea Stahler