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'30 Minutes or Less' could use better timing

Article Published: Aug. 18, 2011 | Modified: Sep. 7, 2011
'30 Minutes or Less' could use better timing

Despite a solid cast and genuinely amusing performances, "30 Minutes or Less" is more like the time it'll take to forget this caper-buddy-heist comedy.

An uneven, strangely paced little film, "30 Minutes or Less" delivers consistent smiles, but not nearly enough laughs to keep its dark comedy from slipping into the shadows.

Put simply, the timing and pacing are off. At times, it's as gleefully manic as its premise suggests.
But unlike its pizza boy protagonist, "30 Minutes" doesn't consistently deliver, idling way too often in a parking lot instead of actually going anywhere, much less getting there on time.

Jesse Eisenberg ("The Social Network") is quick-witted Nick, a pizza guy content with a life spent driving around and getting high, that is until his life is hijacked by wannabe criminals Dwayne (Danny McBride, HBO's "Eastbound and Down") and Travis (Nick Swardson, "Just Go with It").

A spoiled reprobate, Dwayne would rather see his lottery-winning father (Fred Ward, "Tremors") dead than wait for an inheritance, so he concocts a "millionaire plan" that could, but probably won't, get him there.

In order to hire an assassin (Michael Pena, "Observe and Report"), Dwayne and Travis will need $100,000. Their plan? Strap a bomb on some unsuspecting sap and force him to rob a bank.

Sure enough, that sap is Nick, who recruits the help of best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari, "Get Him to the Greek") to get him through his dog-day afternoon.

"30 Minutes or Less" works best with its character pairings. Eisenberg and Ansari have a natural, comic chemistry that results in snappy, enjoyable banter, while McBride and Swardson bring just enough naiveté to their criminal counterparts that their loathsome shenanigans are easy enough to enjoy.

At a mere 83 minutes, "30 Minutes" does manage to pose an important question: Why couldn't director Ruben Fleischer (2009's outstanding "Zombieland") mold a more cohesive narrative?

"30 Minutes or Less," rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity and some violence, is playing at Regal Cinema 7 in Boone. For show times, see page 16 or visit

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