For a movie that features a small handful of some of my favorite comedic actors, this surprisingly falls way short of its potential. I mean, 30 Minutes or Less is entertaining, but it’s not really that funny.
I think it fails at being as dark as it wanted to be, and also fails at being as silly as it wanted to be. It just kind of sits somewhere in the middle, as a lonely, forgettable comedy film in the sea of great comedies of the summer of 2011. How did it go so wrong?
The character development is non-existent. All of the characters are familiar faces that come into this movie with the audience already expecting them to act a certain way. Jesse Eisenberg is the neurotic smart ass who’s too intelligent for his occupation. Aziz Ansari is the same lovable angry little guy from his stand-up comedy acts. Danny McBride is in full-on Kenny Powers mode, and Nick Swardson plays his classic oddball dummy. Even Michael Pena almost plays the same goofy, drugged out villain character as he does in Observe & Report. There’s no real introduction to these characters, they just kind of come on screen and do exactly what you’d expect these actors to do. And instead of attempting to create a relationship between these characters, we are just forced to believe that they are friends. Which is kind of hard to believe, because in one of the earliest scenes of the film, Jesse and Aziz go from life-long friends to enemies in a matter of two minutes. Quite the chemistry, huh?
There are certainly a few big laughs in the film. The actual bank robbery scene, short as it may be, was pretty funny. There are a several more laughs that I probably laughed at where a less-enthusiastic-about-these-actors moviegoer probably wouldn’t have at all. So as I had a lukewarm response to 30 Minutes or Less, I assume someone who doesn’t care about Danny McBride or Aziz Ansari would probably hate this film. Just my guess. I found simple jokes like Danny McBride discussing secret lingo for his dream of running a tanning salon /secret prostitution ring to be hilarious, but I don’t think it would even get a chuckle out of, say, my parents. Quite in fact, much like the medieval times comedy from earlier this year, Your Highness, much of 30 Minutes or Less’ likability relies on your admiration of Danny McBride. It might be split down the middle, actually. Half of the film’s comedy depends on whether you like the vulgar comedy of Danny McBride, the other half whether you like the panicky comedy stylings of Aziz and Jesse Eisenberg. If you don’t like either of those things, then you probably weren’t planning on ever seeing this to begin with.
But again, even with all of my love of the talent involved, it was still only *kind of* funny to me. And I tend to like most immature comedy movies. This just feels like a half-hearted effort. It’s a shame. I’d say it’s maybe worth a rent if you like the actors. Avoid this completely if you don’t. It’s not the worst movie of the year (probably not even close to the worst movie of the year, actually), but it’s not really that memorable of a film either. Just watch Zombieland/Parks & Rec/Eastbound & Down/any of Nick Swardson’s stand-up to get a better taste of what this movie could have been. At the very least, 30 Minutes or Less is only 83 minutes long, preventing it from dragging on. I’d like to say that it has fast pacing for such a short film, but that would be a lie.
Average. Forgettable. Disappointing. Kind of like Domino’s Pizza.
6 out of 10