If you’ve read Trashwire for any length of time, you know I love the cast of 30 Minutes or Less. We’ve had articles about Jesse Eisenberg’s star-making turn in The Social Network, several about Danny McBride adding flavor to any movie and even an interview with Nick Swardson. As hardcore fans of these guys, I saw the movie from a different perspective than most critics.
The plot, based on a true story, is about pizza guy Nick, played by Eisenberg. He’s basically a loser, stuck in a crappy job racing to deliver pizzas in 30 minutes or less—hence the title.
We switch away from Nick to meet Dwayne and Travis (McBride and Swardson). Dwayne is the son of a lottery winner who treats him like the loser he is and Travis is Dwayne’s sidekick. Like a grown up Beavis and Butt-Head, these two like blowing stuff up and seeing boobs, but Dwayne’s dad, whom we know as The Major (Fred Ward) is none too keen on his son living off his millions. So Dwayne and his faithful sidekick consult with a stripper and devise a plan to hire a hitman named Chango (Michael Peña) to knock off the old man. The only problem is that Chango wants $100,000 for the hit. The guys decide to abduct a pizza guy, strap a bomb to his chest and force him to rob a bank to get the money to pay for Chango’s services.
After waking up from an attack to find himself attached to explosives, Nick panics and consults his best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari), to try to come up with a solution. The two resign themselves to robbing the bank and, subsequently, there are car chases, someone getting shot with a pen gun, Latin nicknames and a laser pointer.
Eisenberg is a great actor and his skills are apparent here, but it’s Ansari and his Indian gangsta attitude that bring the major laughs. In one scene, he talks about being recognized in the bank robbery because of his “brown hands”, which make him stand out because there are only a few Indian families in town. His interactions with Nick feel real and are often funny. In one scene, Chet reveals that he was responsible for Nick’s parents’ divorce, to which Nick counters by revealing that he slept with Chet’s sister. The two begin to fight and that feud carries on through out the film, even though they’re best friends and Chet’s helping Nick rob a bank.
Another major standout is Peña, whose lines always get a laugh. My favorite scene involves him trying to treat a gunshot wound and assuring himself that he was still a pimp, even if he was nearly crying from the pain of putting alcohol on his wound.
Swardson is funny as Travis, who seems to be reluctantly dragged into this by his best friend. He never knows what Dwayne has planned and he just wants to be sure no one gets hurt. His quiet and timid character is a departure from Reno 911!’s flamboyant rollerskating prostitute or the shit-talking video game tester in Grandma’s Boy. He plays well off McBride, who is more selfish and mean-spirited than Kenny Powers as Dwayne.
As I was laughing in the theater, I knew critics were going to hate this movie, as they often do with R-rated comedies. Sure, if you’re looking for Oscar-quality “high art” 30 Minutes or Less isn’t the movie for you, but if you’re looking for comedy heavy hitters showcasing their improv skills, you’ll dig it.