Movie Review: 30 Minutes or Less [2011]

30 Minutes or Less [2011]

30 Minutes or Less [2011]
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Genre: Action/Adventure/Comedy
Language: English
Country: USA

Everything about 30 Minutes or Less is just twisted. How much you enjoy the film rests largely on your morals.

The movie is based on a bizarre and horrifying true story about a pizza delivery man who was allegedly forced to rob a bank by a couple of thugs who strapped a bomb on him. In reality, the pizza guy died after the bomb detonated while he was surrounded by police. His death makes this disturbing story a tragic one, and it blows my mind how someone decided to turn this into a dark comedy.

That’s where 30 Minutes or Less comes in. The movie isn’t entirely accurate in regards to the real-life event, but it is strikingly similar.

Jesse Eisenberg, fresh off his stirring lead performance in The Social Network, amusingly takes on the role of Nick, the pizza delivery driver. Nick is a 20-something with seemingly no direction in life. He pisses off his best (and only?) friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari), after telling him that he slept with his twin sister. Things aren’t going well for him already, before the kidnapping even begins.

30 Minutes or Less [2011]

On the other side of the spectrum are Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson), a couple of redneck thugs who clean Dwayne’s father’s pool for $10/hr. One day Dwayne gets the idea to hire a hitman to kill his father, thereby granting him his inheritance. The problem is that the hitman costs $100,000, and the duo have nowhere near this much cash. This is where they come up with the fucked up idea to kidnap a complete stranger (in this case, a pizza delivery guy) and force him to rob a bank by strapping a bomb to his chest.

After Nick is held hostage, armed with the bomb and told of the plan, he turns to Chet to help him with this insane dilemma. Chet agrees to look past their differences in order to help his friend in need, and the movie quickly becomes a buddy action-comedy.

At a brisk 83 minutes, 30 Minutes or Less is a wild ride. The action is brash and in-your-face, and the comedy is dark and oftentimes hilarious. Eisenberg and Ansari are a surprisingly great duo, as they feed off each other nicely, with Ansari in particular delivering some great zingers. McBride and Swardson also play a formidable tandem, with the former channeling his inner-Kenny Powers to full effect. Michael Pena also has a surprisingly great role as the hitman, often stealing the scenes he is in.

30 Minutes or Less [2011]

I was initially intrigued by this movie partly because of its location. 30 Minutes or Less was filmed in Grand Rapids, Michigan, which is my old stomping grounds. I actually used to be a pizza delivery driver a little north of there, too, so I totally understand the feeling of dealing with shit customers (advice: don’t order delivery if you can’t afford a tip!). It was pretty cool to see the area again, even if the movie didn’t paint the city in the friendliest light. For that, check out the YouTube-famous Grand Rapids Lip Dub.

The bottom line here is this: if the idea of a real life tragedy being turned into a comedy upsets you, then obviously this movie isn’t for you. I found the movie to be a blast (no pun intended, I swear), even though I felt it started to fall apart near the end. Funny, profane and ridiculously fast-paced, 30 Minutes or Less is a joy ride well worth seeing.


18 thoughts on “Movie Review: 30 Minutes or Less [2011]

  1. JL says:

    Great review. But I’m one of those that’s disgusted that it’s a comedy that’s actually based off of a tragic story. Very sad…

    Thanks for the post!

  2. Scott Lawlor says:

    Do you play Team Fortress matey? Cos the image of them in ski masks reminds me of that game for some reason….

    Just me then LOL

    Great write up and I am definitely considering seeing this film now. I thought it looked shocking but maybe I was wrong!!

    • Eric says:

      Haha, yeah I have played Team Fortress before. Didn’t even think about the comparison, good stuff!

      If you can stomach the tragic-story-turned-into-a-comedy idea, then it’s worth looking into. Hardly a comedy classic, as Dan stated, but still a fun ride while it lasts.

  3. jsicktheslick says:

    Very nice review, as always. I was a little on the edge as to whether or not this was worth a see, and I think now I’ll probably just wait till it’s on DVD/Netfilx. I didn’t know it was based on a true (and tragic!) story, either!

  4. Dan says:

    I wasn’t a big fan of Zombieland and immediately I’m looking at the film’s premise and thinking – do I really want to see this? I’m guessing this film will be funny but won’t fail to leave a bad taste in the mouth given the real event. I may check it out, but won’t rush to. Good review though Eric.

    • Eric says:

      Thanks, Dan. I loved Zombieland, and this is a pretty good followup. It seems to be a love it or hate it type of comedy, though, judging by other reactions.

  5. aroundlworld says:

    Thanks for pointing out the story behind this movie. It was one of the most shocking real life stories I have read in a while. i dont think I would have believed it if I hadnt read it (e.g. if a friend had told me etc). It has actually made me more interested in seeing this film!!
    Good review too…I will keep an eye out for your future posts

    • Eric says:

      Yeah, it’s pretty nuts. Hard to believe something like this happened, and that an action/comedy movie eventually resulted from it! Thanks for the comment, hope to see you around!

    • Eric says:

      It’s actually pretty easy to forget about the true story once the movies gets going because it’s mostly non-stop craziness. I can understand your hesitance to check it out though. Thanks for the comment!

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