One thing is for sure; when I saw the first trailer for 30 Minutes Or Less I thought that with the cast in the film it would make for some funny moments. But as is the case sometimes in cinema, the individual parts seem to be more than the sum total, and even after watching it, I'm still left wondering what happened a little. However, upon further reflection the guilty parties are easy to seek out.
Michael Diliberti wrote the screenplay (his first) that Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) directed. Nick (Jesse Eisenberg, The Social Network) plays an underachieving pizza delivery man in Michigan who gets caught up in a plot far bigger than him. He is kidnapped by Dwayne (Danny McBride, Eastbound & Down) and Travis (Nick Swardson, Just Go With It), who want him to collect $100,000 in 24 hours, and place a bomb vest on him to ensure this happens. Nick asks his friend Chet (Aziz Ansari, Parks & Recreation) to help with it and he reluctantly agrees, and from there the film's time is spent with Nick trying to get the money and get the bomb vest off, to varying degrees of laughter.
It may have been mentioned before, but the runtime of 30 Minutes Or Less is 83 minutes with end credits. Taking out the end credits and the opening credit sequence (where Nick is driving to a house to deliver pizza in order to beat the "under 30 minutes or it's free" pizza delivery rule), things are closer to 72 minutes or so, which for a movie including some of these actors is horrible. There should have been more than a throwaway exposition scene or two that could have covered some of the characters' motivations. The biggest friction in the film appears to be between Dwayne and his father (Fred Ward, Sweet Home Alabama), who won the lottery and is now living the life, despite his son's leeching onto his fortune. While McBride may wanting to distance himself from his Kenny Powers/oblivious redneck underachiever persona when he appears in other projects, he seems to be coasting here and not doing himself any justice. Swardson, who's not doing himself any favors in cinema right now, doesn't help himself by playing anything other than a more recessive trait version of Steve Janikowski.
There is some reprieve that can be given to Ansari, who actually handles himself well and is one of only two people in the film that cast their comedic fishing lures and land anything. The other one is Michael Pena, who quietly has been mixing roles like Battle Los Angeles in with hilarious things like Observe And Report and doing well in both. I was pleasantly surprised to see him here and he did not disappoint.
While Diliberti says he was unaware of it, the premise of the film looks an awful lot like the plight of Brian Douglas Wells, who was also a pizza delivery man in 2003 when he had a bomb strapped to him and was also ordered to rob a ban. Unlike Eisenberg, the bomb on Wells was detonated and he was killed. One perversely wonders if Eisenberg's character should have met the same fate. At least if one was going to make a comedy based on this unique concept, you would go all the way with the dark comedy portion of the film and get a little more admiration from viewers. As it stands, the approach appears to be to get Eisenberg into the vest as quickly as possible and let the others fend for themselves, and they either don't care to or just don't have the chops.
It's a shame too, because with the top three actors (and Pena) there could have been some hilarious moments, and instead there is a lot thrown against the wall and very little sticks. The actors seem to be apathetic or looking to chew the scenery in their moments, which some do. And to avoid any puns on the title, I'll just say that you'll figure out in less than a half hour that this isn't a comedic juggernaut that you would think it would be. It's just bad.
Presented in 2.40:1 anamorphic widescreen, 30 Minutes Or Less looks about as good as one would expect. The several different night sequences all look fine with a minimum of crushing, and colors are replicated accurately, even when dealing with the bright blue when a bank bag sets off a dye pack. There is even some justice done when shooting exteriors as well, as they look natural, and the image is devoid of any distracting edge enhancement or other post-product image work. Altogether a solid-looking disc.
Dolby Digital 5.1 surround for the film, and it sounds pretty good. The subwoofer fills out the low-end fidelity on explosions and car chases rather nicely, and the rear channels help convey a layer of immersion with directional affects that are clear and effective. The front of the soundstage is strong and consistent, and the film requires little in the way of compensation by the user. While the movie may be total dreck, it's pleasant sounding dreck nonetheless.
Not a lot covers this disc, though there are some more supplements available on the Blu-ray disc. "Blowing Up with the Cast and Crew of 30 Minutes Or Less" (14:09) is the closest thing to an EPK this disc has, with the cast recalling how they came to the material and working with one another, and the generally fun times everyone had on set. Topical, superficial and not worth the time. Slightly more worth the time are ten deleted scenes (11:45) that have some comic riffing and ad-libbing that is surprisingly funny. The outtakes (6:16) are more alternate takes on a line than anything else, with occasional giggling fits from the actors.
If you look at 30 Minutes Or Less at a high level, the only pleasant surprise is Ansari, and if I wanted to see Aziz Ansari kicking it and garnering laughs, I'd watch NBC Thursday nights (and I do). Everything else here is dreck, from the unimaginative to the complacent. Technically it's good but is light on the extras component of the disc, and you'd be better off by blowing it off.