Jokes have one or two concentrated areas and that would be about it. You don’t go to 30 Minutes or Less expecting to see a great movie but one should hope that there’s something clever to mock in a knockabout chase comedy where there’s a bomb strapped to an unsuspecting pizza boy’s chest. Rob a bank or blow up, is the prerogative. Jesse Eisenberg (“Zombieland”) is that expert at playing tensely wound eggheads who beams up in a flash when he’s got a pretty girl to impress but sputters awkwardly when he has to pretend maliciousness. He is the right actor for the part. Here his character is part ashamed that he once slept with the twin sister of his best bud (Aziz Ansari, “Funny People”) which is a catalyst to hands on throat roughhousing. But I guess you can blame Danny McBride (“Your Highness”) for all the excessive non-clever, non-discriminating blowjob jokes. I guess you can blame screenwriter Michael Diliberti, too, for concentrating on that. But director Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”) gets his boys yelping at the right pitch, and so there are some OK moments.
But if you consider yourself a moviegoer who reserves your bucks for the right movie then you don’t really want to go see something that’s just OK, do you? McBride and Nick Swardson (“Just Go With It”) give Eisenberg ten hours to do the job before they will give him the deactivation code for the bomb. This gives Eisenberg’s character Nick enough time to go to Family Dollar emporium to buy bank-robbing supplies, and to make last calls and amends to the people in his life. McBride and Swardson, as the dunderhead criminals Dwayne and Travis who don ape masks, are the kind of first-timers that should leave Nick to believe he could have just outrun their radar and gone to the cops from the beginning. But then we would have missed out on a wisecrack on “The Hurt Locker.”
Anyway, Dwayne and Travis need $100,000 to pay off a hitman (Michael Peña) who is supposed to knock off Dwayne’s intolerable dad for instant inheritance money. There’s also a backstabbing, conniving stripper wrapped up in all this, and she had worked up her boob-tempting manipulation tactics on Dwayne at the strip club.
Bank-robbing humor lasts for about five minutes with Nick fittingly hyper-nervous but ecstatic about the sheer badass crime he’s actually pulling off. When he inevitably has to outrun the cops, his pizza delivery car does a 360 instead of a 180 degree turn which is a zany clever comedy moment. Nick’s rendezvous for the money drop-off is with the hitman, not the dunderheads, and by this point he really shows that he’s grown a pair. Ansari is the good Samaritan, Chet, who accompanies Nick during his charades and foibles, even kicking in with some assistance.
The finale includes a gun, a flamethrower, a bomb, a hot twin sister, and of course Chet, who now goes by the intimidating name “Cruz.” It’s fairly well-handled, but I would have wished that Eisenberg had a better adversary to go up against. I’m starting to get very tired of Danny McBride even if he started off on my good side in such flicks as “Tropic Thunder,” “Hot Rod” and “The Heartbreak Kid.” He’s got ignorant, lewd genitalia-concentrated comedic spew coming out of his mouth and that is what roundly sums him up as well as this movie.
83 Minutes. Rated R.
ACTION COMEDY / CRUDE HUMOR / WEEKEND SLACKER MOVIE
Film Cousins: “Quick Change” (1990); “Run” (1991); “Zombieland” (2009); “Get Him to the Greek” (2010).