30 Minutes or Less (2011) Review

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Since seeing him in Zombieland, Adventureland and of course, Social Network, I’ll watch pretty much anything with Jesse Eisenberg in. He’s carved out a great niche character for himself, an awkward, geeky but fast-talking guy who fits into the zombie apocalypse as comfortably as he does running a multi-million company.

You could argue that his character is very similar from film to film, even when he’s playing Mark Zuckerberg, he seems to play a likable, awkward but intelligent guy who is just trying to do his best to get by (ok, not exactly Zuckerberg.) Where that is killing Michael Cera’s career, it seems to be helping Eisenberg’s because he picks such good films.

Eisenberg is getting by playing the same type of character, but its working!
Eisenberg is getting by playing the same type of character, but its working!

Adventureland was indie but with a bit more maturity to it and a lack of the usual clichés. Zombieland is a unique and fantastic take on the zombie apocalypse that needs a sequel, comic or best yet, animated tv series and Social Network speaks for itself. You can now add 30 Minutes or Less to that list because the film is very good and best of all, very funny.

It’s a very silly premise, two desperate stoners strap a homemade bomb to a pizza delivery guy and tell him he has a day to rob a bank. The pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg) desperately ropes in his best friend (Aziz Ansari) and hilarity ensues. Genuinely.

Some of set-pieces are brilliantly funny!
Some of set-pieces are brilliantly funny!

It’s funny because what you get is a string of set-pieces, each more ridiculous than the next. The film takes you from the brilliantly awful bank robbery, to a high-speed car chase, through to double-crossing, hitman confusion and then more double-crossing. It’s really well put together and even though its silly and far-fetched, its Eisenberg and the rest of the cast that managed to hold it together.

 

Eisenberg and get some of the funniest lines...
Eisenberg and Ansari get some of the funniest lines…

 

It helps that the acting talent work so well together. Eisenberg and Ansari play the “heroes” of the story and although they are involved in some great, over-the-top set-pieces, it’s actually the scenes where the pair are just talking to each other, having mundane conversation that are the funniest. When they play a harsh game of “one up-man-ship” or try to go through ways to get Eisenberg out of his bomb situation, the dialogue is brilliantly written.

Danny McBride and Nick Swardson play the “villains” and get exactly the same, brilliantly written scenes, that Eisenberg and Ansari get. Swardson plays off McBride really well and scenes where they are trying to sort their lives out after they have their money or talk about how to do stake-outs are equally as funny as the conversations the heroes have.

...followed closely by McBride and Swardson.
…followed closely by McBride and Swardson.

The story isn’t as straight-forward as I thought it would be and has a lot more going for it than I imagined. Its got plenty of twists and turns, usually as a result of the ensuing chaos caused by all the inept characters, but it keeps the film moving at a fair and funny pace. It does all end slightly too easily but that’s the kind of ending this film requires.

Overall, Jesse Eisenberg can’t do wrong in my opinion. I have only seen four films he’s starred in but I have been relatively impressed with them all, especially Zombieland and Social Network. 30 Minutes or Less is funny, well-written and a good story, with Jesse’s usual, awkward but quick-mouthed character fitting in perfectly.

Rating 3.5

(1 – Awful, 2 – Average, 3 – Good, 4 – Great, 5! – Must See)

The film is very silly in placces, but this just adds to its charms!
The film is very silly in placces, but this just adds to its charms!
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