[rating: 3/4]

Less than 30 minutes in, I found myself laughing.

I was definitely skeptical of “30 Minutes or Less.” Even with the promise of Danny McBride (“Tropic Thunder,” “Pineapple Express”) and Jesse Eisenberg (“Zombieland,” “The Social Network”), it threatened to be just another dumb screwball comedy. But as soon as I saw Eisenberg’s pizza delivery boy, Nick, connive his way out of forking over a late pie for free, I was hooked.

The movie takes place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, a post-industrial town suffering from urban decay, A late-night call brings Nick to a scrap yard, where Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson)—two deadbeats outfitted in gorilla costumes—jump him and knock him out with chloroform. Dwayne needs the cash that his ex-military dad (Fred Ward of “Tremors” fame) is holding hostage, and when Nick wakes up with a bomb strapped to his body, we learn that Dwayne isn’t willing to wait for his father to pass naturally; He wants the money now. To pay the hit man, he needs Nick to rob a bank—and there are only 10 hours until the bomb explodes.

Directed by:Ruben Fleischer
Written by: Michael Diliberti, Matthew Sullivan
Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari
Rated: R

At its heart, the movie satirizes Generation Y’s sense of entitlement and pokes fun at the plight of our recession-plagued world. Dwayne feels so entitled to his dad’s money that he’d kill for it. Nick is stuck in a dead-end job. His best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari), has just begun his career as a teacher but is all too willing to abandon it  (“Teachers make shit money anyway”). Helping his buddy rob a bank is exciting and gives him a sense of purpose, even if it is in a backward, twisted kind of way. All of the characters feel entitled to a better life, and they’re scheming to get there—some with more success than others.

We’ve seen this kind of premise before—dopey young man needs to get out of an impossible situation before he unintentionally kills everyone within a 50-foot radius—and the jokes aren’t the most original. However, the acting sells the story, and Ansari and Eisenberg both have impeccable delivery.

The movie’s only real failing is in the relationship between Dwayne and his partner in crime, Travis. Their friendship does not resonate authentically like Chet and Nick’s does. Travis’s only really funny bit is when he is pretending to fix a banister while trailing the bomb-clad Nick. McBride’s Dwayne is humorous enough, but the character comes across as more thuggish and mean I would expect from a comedy.

Overall, “30 Minutes or Less” is an excellent movie to close out the summer. It’s not wholly unpredictable, but it accomplishes its goal: a laugh a minute for the audience. Even the end is satisfying—except for one major plot point left dangling. If you notice it, comment below or write to me [email protected]. We can commiserate together.

About The Author

Jess Huckins is a Blast correspondent

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