“30 Minutes or Less” Directed by: Ruben Fleischer Starring: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Michael Peña, Bianca Kajlich, Dilshad Vadsaria, Fred Ward Rated: R
In 2009, Ruben Fleischer directed one of the classic horror/comedies of the decade. “Zombieland” was a throwback to the great drive-in movies of the 1960s. It was hilarious, horrific and at times utterly gross. The sense of fun, though, permeated every scene. Woody Harrelson honestly seemed to be having a great time kicking zombie butt and viewers were in on the joke from the first frame.
It was obvious that Fleischer was a student, fan and aficionado of the genre.
He's followed “Zombieland” with another masterpiece (in its own right), “30 Minutes or Less.” It's a thriller that's heavy on the humor. Again, Fleischer manages to balance the two elements without sacrificing one to the other.
Jesse Eisenberg - who also was in “Zombieland” as well as director David Fincher's much lauded “The Social Network” - stars as Nick, a pizza delivery guy whose biggest worry in life is getting the pies to the customers in the time frame that is the movie's title.
That was his biggest worry until the moment he encounters Dwayne and Travis, a pair of stumblebums who have come up with a “brilliant” plan.
Dwayne's dad - played by the always enjoyable Fred Ward - has won the lottery and Dwayne and Travis have decided to kill him and live off of the inheritance. The biggest obstacle they are facing is the need to come up with $100,000 to pay the hitman that their stripper friend has suggested they use.
Coming up with that kind of cash isn't easy, and that's where Nick, the pizza boy, comes into the picture.
Dwayne and Travis order a pizza. When Nick delivers it (within 30 minutes), they nab him and strap a vest around him. The vest is loaded with explosives and detonating devices. Dwayne and Travis have an electronic trigger.
Nick becomes a walking bomb and two crazy people have their fingers on the button.
The goal is this: Have Nick and his exploding vest walk into a local bank and walk out with $100,000. They can then pay the hitman and collect the insurance on Dwayne's dad.
Simple enough, eh?
As usual in this kind of film, nothing ever goes exactly as planned. What would be the fun in that?
Nick enlists the help - such as it is - of his old friend Chet. Things get weirder when Chet finds out that Nick has slept with his (Chet's) twin sister.
The bank heist and the events following it are a lot of fun and the action scenes are plentiful.
The film is loosely based on a true incident, but I'm sure it wasn't quite as funny as the folks here made it seem.
“30 Minutes or Less” is not a movie that will show up at Oscar time, nor will it change your life. But it's a fun and well-made diversion.
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