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Wednesday, September 7, 2011

30 Minutes or Less

Coming off the back of such mega successes as Ruben Fleischer had with Zombieland and Jesse Eisenberg with The Social Network, can always be tricky territory. Between Fleischers debut being the huge critical and commercial success that it was and Eisenberg's oscar nomination, it seems that all eyes are on them for what they will do next. I'm sure there might be some out there who bemoan the fact that they have turned their attention to something like 30 Minutes or Less, a film that flexes very little of it's brain muscles. However, while it may not be terribly bright, the film is terribly funny. Utilising a core group of hilarious up and comers in comedy to maximum effect, events coast by easily on the casts charms. So while some plot inconsistencies might be raised, they are quickly forgotten in a rapid quick fire assault of jokes and vulgarity. In a Summer crowded with R rated comedies (Bridesmaids, Bad Teacher, The Hangover Part II, Horrible Bosses) competition was certainly raised for 30 Minutes or Less. Thankfully, the film delivers laughs in spades and while it may not be the most memorable experience you will have in a cinema this year, it certainly packs in plenty of fun in it's sparse running time.

Eisenberg stars as Nick, an underachieving slacker/pizza delivery boy. Playing fast and loose with a very crude screenplay, it is nice to see Eisenberg ditch his usual nervy, love lorn and misplaced genius persona and give Nick an air of apathy about him. If previous Eisenberg portrayals had the problem of caring too much, then Nick cares too little - about his life, his job and his friends. He suddenly finds he cares a lot more than he thought when bumbling and incompetent local bums Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) strap a bomb to his chest and order him to rob a bank for them. Sure Eisenberg still retains his usual 'Eisenberg-iness', but he casts an air of palpable panic to Nick and grounds proceedings in his drama. As the two would be criminals Mssrs. McBride and Swardson are their usual reliable selves. Swardson usually only shows up in bit parts or brief comedy sketches elsewhere, so it's nice to see he has the chops to deliver a genuine full rounded character without growing tired before things end. McBride gives another one of his 'red neck asshole' performances that where he not so pitch perfect doing it, would have grown stale long ago. Contrasting their plight with Nick and his best friend Chet's (Aziz Ansari) is nicely handled. Chet is the only one left to turn to when Nick finds himself in his predicament. As his partner and accomplice, it is great to see Ansari finally get the break out role that any followers of his will know, was a long time coming. Eisenberg and Ansari have great chemistry and in that bank robbing scene alone, we see how well they play off each other. In fact, the comedy builds steadily throughout, only heightening as events get more and more dangerous. So as things get more and more farcical, the laughs grow bigger and bigger. Fleischer delivers a funny, fast paced, thrill ride comedy and doesn't dilly dally as things are quickly wrapped up in no time. In fact at a sheer 80 minutes, it's running time is one of the reasons it all works so well. It's cast do great work with their profanity-laden parts and Fleischer proves that Zombieland  was no fluke. Sure it's not big or clever, but it sets out to deliver laughs across a high concept format and it delivers in spades. It's cast ensure that the jokes keep on coming and it's short running time is enough to distract you from any glaring plot holes or contrivances. All the film wants you do to is sit back and laugh at stupid people doing stupid things, so why should you fight it - especially when it's got a killer car chase set to this.

Verdict: 7/10
It's not going to win any awards, but Fleischer's film delivers jokes by the bucketload. Naysayers of any the cast before will find nothing revolutionary here, everyone else will be laughing too hard to notice. Short, sweet, punchy and very entertaining.

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