“30 Minutes or Less” Movie Review

     Getting to see an action-comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg and helmed by “Zombieland” director Ruben Fleischer sure sounded awfully appealing this late in the summer, but the string of successful R-rated comedies comes to a screeching halt with “30 Minutes or Less.”  Why Jesse Eisenberg signed on for this is beyond me.  After knocking one out of the park in his turn as Mark Zuckerberg in last year’s award winner “The Social Network”, Eisenberg takes a definite step back with his choice of a film to follow up his near Best Actor win.  Perhaps, Eisenberg felt he owed Fleischer a favor after giving him his main stream start in the aforementioned Zombieland, a good film by the way.  In “30 Minutes or Less”, the cast is essentially wasted with one notable exception.

     Danny McBride has to be one of the worst and unfunniest actors working today.  In fact, I cant understand how this guy gets any work in the first place.  It seems he excels at making everyone around him look bad.  Danny McBride is not wasted in this film, rather he is right at home and is perfect for this crappy material.  I don’t think I’ll be wasting my time seeing any more films that have his name attached in a major role.

     “30 Minutes or Less” first introduces us to Nick (Eisenberg) as he races in his beat up Mustang to deliver a pizza in the required time as the title suggests.  His roommate, Chet (Aziz Ansari) is a school teacher and has a definite problem with Nick’s attraction to his sister.  One night, Nick delivers a pizza to an old junk yard and is accosted by two men wearing gorilla and monkey masks.  The two men, Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) tell Nick he has 10 hours to rob a bank of $100,000 or the bomb vest they have affixed to him will blow up.

     Dwayne’s ridiculous plan requires Nick to do this so he can take the money and pay a hit man to kill his father.  As played by Fred Ward, The Major, as he is called treats Dwayne like the overgrown child he is.  As a former Marine, The Major has no problem ridiculing Dwayne.  So why does Dwayne put up with it?  The Major won the lottery and is a millionaire, which is of course the reason Dwayne wants to have him killed so he can inherit all of his money.  Thats the basic plot.  The rest of the film stages various action sequences and car chases as the initial plan does not go as the characters had intended.

     These R-rated comedies have been hit and miss this summer.  For every “Bridesmaids” there was a disappointing “The Hangover 2”.  I’d put 30 Minutes or Less with the later.  Its 83 minute running time takes forever to end and you are constantly forced to watch all sorts of boring banter between Dwayne and Travis.  They’re as stupid as the bad guys in the Home Alone movies, but not funny at all.  Nick and Chet seem to generate a few laughs and they are the lone bright spot in the film.  Jesse Eisenberg seems to be a one tone kind of actor and I don’t see his roles changing much from film to film.  That being said, I think he is effective and some of the conversations he and Chet have make the film at least watchable at times.

     I’m thinking the filmmakers went into this with the notion they would be making a film as clever and funny as Zombieland but they clearly missed the mark.  “30 Minutes or Less” is likely the type of film you will literally forget about within 30 minutes of leaving the theater.  As an action-comedy, it is painfully ordinary.  GRADE: D