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“30 Minutes or Less” – Early Review (SO-SO POSITIVE)

August 12, 2011

“Zombieland” was damn funny, for a movie that I thought would be a cheap American rip-off on the UK cult classic, “Shaun of the Dead”, it was damn funny & smart too. So, Columbia Pictures decides to give  the “Zombieland” director, Ruben Fleischer, another go and teaming up with his previous starrer, Jesse Eisenberg, people were get pretty stoked, I was one of  them. The result of his sophomoric comedy “30 Minutes or Less” is…well…it’s amusing. Did it suck? No. Was it Great? No. It was just amusingly…ok. The movie’s cast is quite good, everyone is equally funny and has enough screen time to shine there comic skills, but the script is sloppy and the direction wasn’t any different than “Z-Land”‘s direction was.

After hiring an assassin (Michael Pena) to murder his father (Fred Ward) for his inheritance money, Dwayne (Danny McBride), and goofball partner-in-crime, Travis (Nick Swardson), kidnap a pizza delivery man named Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) and force him against his will to rob a bank while wearing a bomb on his chest. Nick then receives help from his ex-best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari) to rob the bank in order to save his life. And as you guessed, it’s one zany ride from there on, scene to scene. But, was it zany enough? Well yes & no. There were a few critics who complained that the movie relied on too much on low-brow comedy, and to me, there wasn’t enough of that. There was plenty of vulgarity, especially on McBride’s end, but not as much as this months “The Change-Up”. But, the catchy one-liners and riffing between characters was charming and fun.

Like I said before, the cast is amusing, everyone does everything right. Personally, I liked Ansari the most. I love the NBC series “Parks & Recreation”, and I think Aziz is hilarious on that show, so it was quite nice to see him in a feature length movie. Jesse Esienberg, he’s a little more mean spirited in this movie, which is a relief since he’s really starting to break out of the ‘being compared to Michael Cera’ phase. Danny McBride, I like him, but all I saw in this movie was Kenny Powers, nothing new from him, but he’s still funny. He’s says some pretty messed up things that you just can’t help but smirk at. Nick Swarsdon, I was really expecting more from him, he seemed to hold it all back. Nick can be really crazy and off the wall funny, but he seemed just…tired in this movie, it’s a shame really. But, Michael Pena, wow, he was a scene stealer, much like in his first comedy, “Observe & Report”, he steals every scene he’s in. He was silly as the “assassin” that McBride’s Dwayne hires, I kinda wanna see a spin-off or at least have more focus on his character.

The cast is all in all not bad, and it saves me from giving the film a complete NEGATIVE or even a SO-SO review, but the issue I do have was the script. Much of it was just poorly done, it’s a bit sloppy at times. The ending is really messed up, right when it cuts to credits you just feel like these character have learned dick. Robbing banks are cool & fun and if you have a ski mask & a black spray painted toy gun, you can get away with it. That clearly seems to be the message the movie was offering, lame-sauce if you ask me. Ruben Fleisher’s direction was timid at best, nothing really broke out any different than his first film. For a directors second movie you’d expect them to do some new moves that they were afraid to show before, but the camera style, the look of the film was exactly like his previous movie. I’ll give him credit though, the car chase scene after Nick & Chet rob the bank was quite clever.

So, is it worth the $10 ticket? I would say yes on account that the cast is really good and they will leave you laughing, and you’ll be with your pals after the movie repeating some of the funny one-liners that Aziz & Danny had.

GRADE: C+

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