The premise of 30 Minutes or Less (2011), the latest film from Zombieland (2009) director Ruben Fleischer, sounds slightly worrying – how was an action comedy starring Jesse Eisenberg and Danny McBride, concerning a couple of inept crooks and a pizza delivery boy, really to going to amount to anything greater than a bargain basement DVD? Fortunately, 30 Minutes or Less is in fact a slick, fresh and surprisingly witty film.
Two bumbling friends Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) need $100,000, and quick. And what better way to get it than to rob a bank? Of course being the cowards that they are they wouldn’t be so stupid as to do it themselves! Instead they kidnap the local pizza delivery boy Nick (Eisenberg), make him into a living time-bomb and tell him he has ten hours to get the money or they’ll be serving him up as fast food.
30 Minutes or Less proves that, like Nick, it is a mistake to dismiss things on face value. Though he may appear to the outside world as a no-hoper who is easy to hoodwink and pull one over on, Nick has hidden depths and proves to be much sharper than people (particularly the hapless Dwayne and Travis) give him credit for. When he joins forces with his on/off best friend Chet (the hilarious Aziz Ansari), they prove a resourceful team and more than a match for the various hit men, police and ditsy bank clerks they come up against.
Likewise, 30 Minutes or Less is not as it first appears. Given the storyline you’d be forgiven for dismissing it as another Dude, Where’s My Car (2000) clone (in fact they could easily have cast Ashton Kutcher as Nick). Instead, you have witty put downs (watch out for Nick’s would be girlfriend Kate’s waspish description of his t-shirt / jeans combo), an amazing double-whammy car crash, and an atmospheric recreation of small town America complemented with a whiff of those 1980s teen comedies courtesy of The Heat is On playing during the climatic car chase. All in all, 30 Minutes or Less proves a refreshingly sharp and offbeat surprise – a bit like Nick himself.