30:Minutes or Less
dir Ruben Fleischer
scr Michael Diliberti
prd Stuart Cornfeld, Jeremy Kramer, Ben Stiller
with Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Dilshad Vadsaria, Michael Pena, Fred Ward, Bianca Kajlich, Brett Gelman, Paul Tierney, Gary Brichetto, Rebecca Cox
release US 12.Aug.11, UK 16.Sep.11
11/US Columbia 1h23
30 Minutes or Less
Rank amateurs: Ansari and Eisenberg

mcbride swardson pena
R E V I E W    B Y    R I C H    C L I N E
30 Minutes or Less There's no depth or meaning in this light bit of goofiness, but if you're in the mood for some random escapism, it's the kind of movie that keeps you chuckling. And often laughing out loud.

Slackers Dwayne and Travis (McBride and Swardson) are fed up with pressure from Dwayne's militaristic father (Ward), and decide to bump him off to get his money. They hire a hitman (Pena), but need cash to pay him, so they kidnap pizza delivery boy Nick (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank in the next 10 hours. He enlists his pal Chet (Ansari) and, with little time to spare, off they go. But of course nothing goes as planned.

The film has a freewheeling tone, as if the cast and crew made up the story as they went along from a central plotline that's just about enough for a brief comedy sketch. So it's padded out with a series of crazy antics, goofy mishaps and undeveloped side characters, such as Kate (Vadsaria), Chet's sister and the object of Nick's crush.

And despite the guns and explosives, there isn't much real sense of menace. Every scene is played for laughs, and most of the time this works: the bank robbery is genuinely hilarious, as is the chaotic money hand-off. But none of it sticks around for us to pick apart the internal logic. And while some scenes dip too far into genuinely disturbing violence, no one actually seems to get hurt. Or at least they don't dwell on it.

Fleischer keeps things moving briskly, and the likable cast has fun with their flippant, goofy characters (Eisenberg even gets in a Facebook joke). No one is particularly sympathetic, but then there isn't a proper villain either, and none of the performances are much of a stretch. The action scenes are directed with a sometimes startling authenticity, as things continually take surprisingly nasty turns. And in the end there isn't a moral message to be found anywhere. Which is kind of refreshing, really.

cert 15 themes, language, violence, sexuality 18.Aug.11

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© 2011 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall