The “R” rated comedy has become something of a commodity in the last few years. Every since the creation of The Hangover, writers and directors have been trying to push the envelope of mainstream comedies. This year we have already seen some similar titles like The Hangover Part 2 (ugh), Horrible Bosses (really liked), and Bridesmaids (need to see it). The producers feel that a comedy won’t sell unless it gets an R rating nowadays. 3o Minutes or Less shows that these companies are trying to sell only tickets rather than focus on what makes people laugh. That’s not to say that 30 Minutes or Less is a terrible film or that it’s poorly made, it’s just lacking any punch or honest humor.
Jesse Eisenberg plays Nick, a pizza delivery guy with no ambition and little going for his life. Opposite him is his best friend Chet, who has a steady job and career path all laid out in front of him as a teacher. The two get into an argument about Nick sleeping with Chet’s twin sister and tensions build all leading to a revelation that Chet was responsible for Nick parents divorce. Well, that seems to be the end of their friendship as Nick walks out wanting nothing to do with Chet or his selection of action movies.
Danny McBride and Nick Swardson play the antagonists of Dwayne (Danny) and Travis (Nick). Dwayne is set to inherit his fathers lottery money but is worried that his crazy old man, played by Fred Ward, is going to use it all up before he dies. A stripper talks Dwayne into hiring a hitman-friend of hers to kill his father so that Dwayne can collect the money early. With Travis’ knack for explosives and Dwayne’s power of horrible ideas, the two decide to kidnap a pizza delivery guy. The pizza guy, who turns out to be out heroine, will have bombs strapped to his chest and forced to rob a bank so that the Dwayne will have enough money for a hit. Hilarity ensues?…
30 Minutes or Less has a lot going for it, a solid up and coming comedic cast, an intriguing story, and a director whose last film (Zombieland) was very likable. This movie fails to make you laugh no more than a few times and being a comedy, that’s not what it should be aiming for. If it were an action film and got a few laughs then I should say that it’s doing alright as long as the action is good, but you can’t get away with that in every genre. There is a absence of memorable one liners and I felt that some of the dialogue was trying to be gross for grossness sake. “Let’s say cock, fuck, and pussy a bunch of times, that will make the tweens laugh”. I hate when comedies throw the cleverness out the window for fear of being too smart or unfunny.
Let’s just say that it’s just not a funny movie and move on with the review. As far as acting goes (sans the comedy), everyone pulls their weight at playing the characters that they are all known for. Jesse Eisenburg plays the awkward yet aiming for confidence guy, Danny McBride is that niche role where he’s just an asshole because he hates his life, and Swardson acts like an idiot. There’s no new ground being covered and that’s not really a bad thing for our actors, they know these roles well. You can’t blame them for the lack of good lines because they probably didn’t write them. A bit of a let down was Aziz Ansari’s character, he did have the best lines in the movie but sometimes he looked uncomfortable delivering his routine. He only seemed natural when he says lines that you most likely would hear in his stand-up, it’s a hard humor to explain but it’s his cadence…or something.
The most annoying feature of the film (not the lack of comedy, that’s just disappointing) is that everyone always seems to be yelling and arguing. No one can agree on anything and at least half of the dialogue has the characters just screaming their lines–lines that are not even that funny. It’s a shame that the comedic value rests on the sole idea of people yelling, maybe you would like that, but I didn’t. It wore on me and even though it was a short film (88 mins), I felt I had enough by the end.
Going back to my discussion on the R rated comedy earlier, 30 Minutes or Less feels like it didn’t need to be that harshly rated. I felt that they threw in some pointless nudity and extra “fuck” words to purposely get out of the PG-13 realm. Like I said, the producers or whoever might feel that the movie would tank in ticket sales if it were to not get an R rating. Then again, I think the movie won’t sell because of the lukewarm reviews. If only they were to focus on what would have made the movie funny and kept it PG-13, this whole review might have sang a different tune.
I don’t feel like I wasted my time going to see 30 Minutes of Less because on some level, it’s an enjoyable film with a decent enough story line and interesting situations. The problem lies in the lack of proper humor or anything that makes this film stand out. What you laughed at in the trailer is what you will laugh at in the movie. I would wait till this came out of DVD or Blu to hopefully catch an Unrated version. Go see Horrible Bosses instead if it’s out still or just wait for something better to come along.