30 Minutes or Less (2011)

(In theaters, August 2011) As a criminal comedy, there are a lot of similarities between this and Pineapple Express.  Not only does Danny McBride has a prominent role in the two movies, but both are criminal comedies starring underperforming slackers in the lead roles.  Here, a pizza delivery guy in his twenties is kidnapped by two other slackers, put in an explosive vest and told he’s got no other choice by go rob a bank.  What follows is a quick 80-minutes tale of criminal stupidity and plucky heroes.  Forget about social commentary, wholesome family entertainment or mind-expanding revelations: It’s pure comic character work set within a thriller template.  Despite the film’s similarities to the Brian Douglas Wells criminal case, 30 Minutes or Less doesn’t claim to be based on a true story, and fortunately doesn’t try to remind aware audiences of the real-life drama.  Jesse Eisenberg is a bit more tolerable than you’d expect as the lead, but it’s really Aziz Ansari and Michael Peña who steal the show in enjoyable supporting performance.  The script is peppered by high-energy moments –including a car chase that plays with the conventions of the genre and a quick ending that’s over almost before we know it.  The humour to too crude to be fully enjoyable, the violence is too gory to be forgettable and the rhythm is inconsistent, but 30 Minutes or Less still manages to score a few hits, and the tone is just controlled enough to avoid the exasperating immaturity of, say, Pineapple Express.  While it’s a step down for Zombieland director Ruben Fleisher, it’s nonetheless an acceptable summertime crime comedy.

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