‘Less’ is More With Eisenberg and Company

30 Minutes or Less


That pizza better be here on time…


Starring Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Dishad Vadsaria, and Fred Ward. Directed by Ruben Fleischer


If you happen to forget the name of the movie it’s the one about the pizza guy who has a bomb strapped to his chest. I kept telling others about it and screwing up the name so if you saw the commercials it’s that one: “30 Minutes or Less.”


Nick (Eisenberg) is your standard twenty-something minimum-wage guy: he delivers pizza for Vitto’s who keeps their “30 minutes or less or it’s free” claim. Much like Peter Parker in the first “Spider-Man” movie he’s late and hated by his boss. So goes minimum-wage work. Nick is roommates with his best friend Chet (Ansari) whom he’s known most of his life. Pretty standard.


What Chet doesn’t know is that Nick is more than friendly with his twin sister Kate (Vadsaria). Eight years back Nick and Kate spent the night together and Nick has stayed really good friends with Kate but their relationship is little more than surface level. Problems arise when Kate tells Nick that she’s planning on moving to Atlanta for a job and they get worse when Nick confides to Chet that he slept with Kate years earlier. So much for friendship and roommates…


Enter a different set of friends: Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Swardson). Dwayne is an over-spoiled man-child living under the roof of his dad whom he calls The Major (Ward). The Major is retired military and lives off the $10 million he won in the lottery and constantly berates Dwayne for being a slacker. Dwayne is pissed-off and wants his dad to die so he inherits the money. Travis is his best friend that happens to be proficient in weapons of destruction but a little slow on the uptake when it comes to being social.


One night at a local strip club Dwayne hatches a plan with the help of a stripper named Juicy (Bianca Kajlich) to kill off the dad. She’ll call up a friend who’ll be more than happy to do it for $100k. Now all Dwayne has to do is come up with the $100,000 so he can get the rest of the $10 million. If only there were some sort of convoluted and contrived manner in which to do it…


Oh yeah. There is. Reasoning that rich people get to be that way by convincing others to do their work for them they scheme to kidnap someone and make them rob a bank. Yep, that’s the ticket. That person winds up being Nick who, upon delivering pizzas to an abandoned salvage yard is knocked out and wakes to find himself confronted by a guy in a gorilla mask (Dwayne) and one in a chimp mask (Travis). They tell him that he has ten hours to rob a bank or the bomb vest strapped to his chest will explode. If he tries removing it the explosives will go off just like if he didn’t have the code to disable the countdown. The clock is running…


Quickly Nick makes it over to the school Chet is substitute teaching at and relays the problem: they have to rob the small town bank for the $100,000 so Nick can get the vest off of him. “You came to a school with a bomb strapped to your chest?” Yes, he did. The two then set on a journey which involves armed robbery, car chases, a Latino assassin, money, and mishaps.


As far as the sub-genre of “idiot heisting” movies go this is one of the better ones. The first thirty minutes are kinda boring with giving the backgrounds of the characters who, mostly, will have no real development. Once the situation kicks in the movie takes off with twists, turns, and crosses that can’t always be seen before they’re got to. The real crux of it all involves a car chase with Glenn Frey’s “The Heat Is On” playing in the background.


At its base level “30 Minutes or Less” is a lot of fun. While not as slickly polished as Fleischer’s previous film, “Zombieland,” the script is clever in its one-liners and treatment of the “heist” movie formula.


Eisenberg works well for the main character Nick as does Ansari as his best friend. Danny McBride plays whatever variation of himself the script calls for. Swardson left me wondering if he understood his character or what. I don’t know. Ward, Vadsaria, and Michael Pena play their roles as they were written: two-dimensional. This is a movie about the characters serving the story and on that note most of the supporting cast is just that: support.


Do I recommend the film? I’m not sure about full price but it’d be a great weekend afternoon see. Or whatever discount days your theater has.


My grade: B