The not so smart Dwayne intends to open a massage parlor with his partner Travis, but he does not have money for the investment. He decides to hire a hit-man to kill his father, The Major, who won a large amount of money in the lottery years ago, but the killer demands US$ 100,000 for the job. Dwayne and Travis kidnap the pizza delivery boy Nick and they dress Nick in a vest with a timer and several bombs. Then Dwayne tells Nick that he has ten hours to rob US$ 100,000 from a bank. Once he does, he would give Nick the code to release the vest. Nick summons his best friend Chet to help him in the heist but the scheme does not work the way Dwayne has plotted.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Unpredictable, outrageous and consistently hilarious
Despite multiple viewings, I was never a fan of Zombieland. It was not a horrible film by any measure, and was quite the debut feature for Reuben Fleischer, but it still disappointed me every time I tried to watch it. So I went into an advanced screening of his follow-up 30 Minutes or Less this week with significantly lower expectations. Rather thankfully, it surpassed all of them and then some.
Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a bit of a slacker, and living a fairly miserable life. He delivers pizzas for a living, while his roommate Chet (Aziz Ansari) has just started teaching in a local elementary school. On the last delivery of the night, Nick gets jumped by two wannabe- criminals, Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson). They want to have Dwayne's father killed, but cannot come up with the money in order to get it done right. So they strap a bomb to Nick's chest, and give him ten hours to rob a bank and bring the money back to them.
30 Minutes or Less is a rare breed of comedy, especially for this summer. It may sound derivative, and may sound even more like it has too much going on at once. But after a chaotically hilarious opening twenty minutes, the film nestles into its niche, and quickly becomes a fairly twisted story that gets more outrageous and dark with every turn. But instead of slowly falling apart like Horrible Bosses and especially The Hangover Part II, the film stays consistent throughout, balancing its tone and its laughs exceptionally. Despite being shorter than Zombieland, Fleischer and screenwriter Michael Diliberti pack in enough material to allow the story to flow briskly, while also never finding a moment to slow down. The one-liners come faster and furiously with every passing minute, and you may miss a lot from laughing so hard. This is a ludicrously high-concept comedy that could have gone horrendously wrong (especially given how dangerously close it plays out to a real life event), but it thankfully rarely misses the mark it sets out for itself.
Even though the trailer does not suggest it, the film also plays out as a wonderful homage to the buddy films of the 1980s, complete with an inspired soundtrack (Glenn Frey's "The Heat is On" plays over an absolutely hysterical key scene, instantly bringing memories of Beverly Hills Cop flooding back). Fleischer and Diliberti are about a year too late to the 80s nostalgia trip, but it does not really matter in this case. Instead of remaking or reimagining a 80s brand for the current time or using the nostalgia simply for jokes, they use that decade's influence to help craft the film to be even stronger. So strong that it almost feels like it belongs in that era, standing alongside the greats. It reminded me a lot of Pineapple Express in the way things play out, but 30 Minutes never allows itself to become overly serious or something it is not.
Acting wise, everyone brings their A-game and is absolutely fantastic. Their deadpan and quick-witted responses and chemistry together as a group is simply astounding. Eisenberg plays his usual oafish loser, but brings a kinetic and nervous energy he has so far reserved away from most of his movies. While he is usually calm and relaxed, he lets loose here, and brings about one of his finest comedic performances to date. Much the same goes for McBride, who is larger than life here, casting a shadow over almost everyone. It has taken me a long time to warm up to his brand of comedy, but seeing him in action here is simply magical. He gets all of the best lines, and delivers them with the gusto of a trip master of the craft.
Ansari, in his first real major film role, holds it together fairly well, but you can tell he is a bit hot under the collar. It pays off in his insanely delirious performance, but it is a bit too shaky in some cases. Swardson holds his own surprisingly, and proves that he can be an absolute riot when cut off from Adam Sandler and company. Let's hope this film helps him take the hint. But special mention has to go to Michael Peña as the would-be assassin, who dusts off his wacky accent from Observe and Report, and somehow makes himself even more over-the- top. I hate to say it considering how dementedly hilarious the rest of the cast is, but he steals almost every scene he appears in.
While my enthusiasm for the film may sound a little overbearing, it is far from perfect. The characters are a bit too under sketched, and never really develop outside of the parameters of the story set-up. They are not quite one-dimensional, but outside of their key traits, there is not much else there. This may sound a bit like nitpicking, but for a film that does so much else right, it seems a little strange that the characters are not better developed. We care about all of these characters, and especially want to see Nick make it out of this situation alive. But I think a bit of extra dialogue here and there to really make something of these characters could have gone a long way. And while I appreciated the movie references, some of the more advertising-like references were a bit excessive (Eisenberg mentioning Facebook was cutesy, but Aziz going on a tirade about Netflix pricing seemed a bit forced).
I held small hopes I would enjoy 30 Minutes or Less, and was impressed by how wildly hilarious it is. It is instantly quotable, and packs some of the best comedy we have seen this summer. It may come later, and may sound a bit ridiculous, but do not allow that to make you hesitate seeing it. Letting it pass you by is simply criminal.
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