Did you ever see someone line-up a hundred dominoes in a perfect design that looks like it will be so easy and awesome to knock them all over? Then when they push the first one it might knock two or three over but then something goes wrong and it doesn't work? That's 30 Minutes or Less. All the dominoes were lined-up and gave the impression that this would be so awesome when easily knocked over, but something just went wrong with it.
30 Minutes or Less has a great team of comedic actors. Danny McBride (Tropic Thunder, Your Highness), Oscar-nominated Jesse Eisenberg (The Social Network, Zombieland), Aziz Ansari (NBC's Community, Funny People) and Nick Swardson (Grandma's Boy, Just Go With It) are the principal cast here and all of them are very funny. Then you add director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) and Ben Stiller as producer, you should be able to knock those dominoes over...1, 2, 3. I don't know what happened but it was a disaster.
First off, the tone of the movie was nowhere near the caliber that Fleiscer created with Zombieland. I expected the same kind of music video intensity with great editing, bright colors and funny FX. Instead, what 30 Minutes or Less offers is boring, uninteresting direction from a timid director that doesn't resemble the creative beast we got the first time around.
We also get a lackluster performance from almost everyone involved. It's pretty sad when the shining star in the comedic cast is Michael Pena (Crash, The Lincoln Lawyer), who is mostly known for his dramatic chops. Just like he did in the highly underrated Observe and Report, Pena creates so much with such little screen time. His crazed and slightly slow Mexican gangster, Chonga, is the best thing about the movie and delivers most of the laughs despite only being in 3 or so scenes.
The concept for the film has the potential to be very funny, even though it bares an eerie similarity to a horrific case in Pennsylvania a year ago that ended with the poor guy, who had the bomb strapped around his neck, getting his head blown up. Don't worry, 30 Minutes or Less has a much different ending although it's equally as unfunny.
Eisenberg even gives a performance that is so forced and poorly crafted that it almost makes me think he got lucky with that Oscar nomination last year. We'll see what the future holds for him, but I hope he's got a lot better up his sleeve. But even if he had the flu through the entire production, I would still expect the other three to carry the film. They've each made me laugh in other projects they've worked on but in this movie it seems as if they were forced to work together despite no one getting along. It also doesn't help that all four of them play the exact same roles you've seen them play time and time and time again. Really, Danny McBride? You're a foul-mouthed hot head again? How original.
30 Minutes or Less is such a disappointment and that's not even including the fact that it's a pitiful 83 minutes long. Are you kidding me? The last time a feature length movie was that short it was animated! The film had all the ingredients but just failed to deliver...only with the movie, you don't get your money back.
30 Minutes or Less (Rated R)
Gavin Grade: D+