30 Minutes or Less Review
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In 2009, rookie director Ruben Fleischer came out of nowhere to release the outrageously hilarious action-comedy Zombieland. The sharply-written, character-driven, zombie-filled romp instantly made Fleischer a director to watch—and critics and fans alike anxiously awaited a follow-up. Now, Fleischer and his Zombieland star, Jesse Eisenberg, have traded zombies and Twinkies for criminals and pizzas in the comic caper 30 Minutes or Less.

Eisenberg stars as Nick, a pizza-delivering slacker whose life is a blur of beer, action movies, and pepperoni. His best friend and roommate, Chet (Aziz Ansari), on the other hand, is finally growing up and settling into his teaching career. Their lifelong friendship is on the brink of collapse—especially after Nick reveals some troubling information about Chet’s twin sister, Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria).

One night, on a late-night delivery, Nick is kidnapped by Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson), a couple of would-be criminals who’d rather delegate their crimes than do the job themselves. The next morning, they strap a homemade bomb to his chest and give him just 10 hours to rob a bank and deliver the cash before the bomb explodes. With nowhere else to turn, Nick goes straight to Chet for help.

30 Minutes or Less doesn’t exactly start off with a bang. It isn’t the same non-stop comic thrill ride that Zombieland was, either. Instead, it builds slowly, taking time to develop the characters and their stories. But while the build-up is amusingly chatty, it provides more background information on the characters than necessary.

After all, what really matters in a movie like 30 Minutes or Less isn’t the story. Audiences won’t really care about the picky details of Dwayne and Travis’s criminal motivation, nor will they care that Nick and Chet have been fighting about Chet’s sister and Nick’s parents’ divorce. What really matters is the film’s comic action.

Fortunately, once Nick gets that bomb strapped to his chest, the film finally takes off. Nick and Chet set off on a wild and crazy race against time, trying to use their apparent knowledge of action movies and video games to plan (and, hopefully, pull off) an impromptu bank robbery. Of course, things don’t always go as planned—and their awkward attempts at being criminals give the film its best comedic touches.

McBride and Swardson have their moments—especially Swardson, whose lovably bumbling Travis manages to steal some of the spotlight away from McBride’s typical obnoxious loser act. But Eisenberg and Ansari give the film its geeky charm. Eisenberg is as adorably awkward as ever as aimless slacker Nick—and Ansari adds an abundance of nervous energy as his strung-out partner in crime.

30 Minutes or Less offers fans of Zombieland the same ham-fisted hero (played by the same stammering star) and—at least in the second half—the same zany comic action. It isn’t as wildly, brilliantly entertaining as Fleischer’s debut, but if you’re willing to wait out the somewhat sluggish opening, you’ll eventually be rewarded with plenty of outrageous action and laughs.

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