When I first saw the preview of 30 Minutes or Less, I knew I wanted the movie to be awesome. In fact, I was afraid of how awesome I wanted it to be. The cast looked amazing: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, and Nick Swardson. And the premise was ridiculous and a little violent: two weird, dumb, criminal, best friends, Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Swardson) kidnap a pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg), strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank so they can pay off a hit man to kill Dwayne’s lottery winning father to claim his inheritance.
Nick Swardson plays an unlikely straight man in his role as Travis, whose bomb making expertise is essential to the heist McBride’s Dwayne concocts after a money hungry stripper, Juicy, played by Bianca Kajlich, hints that she knows a guy who could get rid of his problem father and make them both rich. The only problem? Dwayne needs 100 grand to pay off the hit man and chaos ensues. Travis is somehow the voice of reason several times throughout the film, being a good person at heart and not really wanting to hurt anyone, yet still fearful of the strong and dumb minded Dwayne.
Aziz Ansari and Jesse Eisenberg also play a pair of best friends, Chet and Nick, respectively, since high school who are struggling as one has gotten his life together (Chet) and the other (Nick) is content in loserdom, delivering pizza’s and working for a total asshole. Nick (Eisenberg) is also hopelessly in love with his best friend’s twin sister, who just got a job in another state, sending him into a hopeless tailspin of self hatred that he projects onto Chet (Ansari) and after a particularly brutal fight, filled with harsh truths about their friendship, the two part ways. But their separation is brief after Nick is kidnapped, strapped with a bomb and realizes he has no one else to turn to but to Chet.
Both sets of friendships are put to the test in this intense and hilarious comedy, which, while it’s premise is about a dude who gets forced to rob a bank, it’s also about sometimes tumultuous friendships that develop and how in truth, you can tell when you’ve got someone in your corner, because they’re there when shit gets crazy.
The performances in this film are truly what make it work so well. While initially, Jesse Eisenberg delivers his lines with the same cadence and intensity as he did in The Social Network, he ultimately wins you over with the honesty of how his character got to where he is. Aziz Ansari brings the same, sharp tounged, wit that dazzles me to no end on Parks and Recreation, all the while bringing real emotion to the hesitation and liberation he feels as he helps guide his friend through a life or death situation. Nick Swardson and Danny McBride work so amazingly well as team, clearly headed up by McBride’s Dwayne. Their idiocy and uneven friendship work so well as their performances are, while brash and broad characters, still subtle and believable.
I wanted this movie to kick ass. I wanted it to be funny, and violent, and goofy and awesome. And it was. There’s even a little love story that includes Dilshad Vadsaria as Kate, Chet’s twin sister. So there’s a little something in there for everybody. I should also mention, the film was shot and set in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which was fun to spot the scenery I recognized. It also made me love the film even more.
30 Minutes or Less
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, and Nick Swardson,
My Rating (On a scale of A to F): A