What can I say about a movie that made me want to take a shower and cleanse myself afterward? 30 Minutes or Less is so shallow, self-satisfied, and downright repulsive that I hesitate to discuss it at all. It has none of the qualities of director Ruben Fleischer’s debut feature, Zombieland, and it’s a long way from Jesse Eisenberg’s Oscar-nominated The Social Network. In fact, I’d call this movie antisocial.
The premise involves a lowlife, played all too well by Danny McBride, and his naïve friend, Nick Swardson, who concoct a scheme to kill off McBride’s wealthy father (Fred Ward). Hiring a hit man requires money, so they need to find a patsy and force him to rob a bank by strapping a time-bomb to his body. The unfortunate victim is a pizza delivery boy played by Eisenberg, who’s too smart to be completely convincing as—
—such a loser. Eisenberg turns to his only friend, Aziz Ansari, for help, figuring he can’t rob a bank by himself, and the two amateurs give it their best shot. Others who become involved in this escalating farce include a hit man and a stripper.
I understand that the film’s hedonistic attitude is supposed to give it permission to be offensive, since none of this is meant to be taken seriously. But the frequent ethnic and racial slurs, along with McBride’s crude sexual references, grow tiresome pretty fast. What’s worse, they aren’t funny. (When McBride and Swardson kidnap Eisenberg’s girlfriend, who’s Indian, they find her—where else?—in a toilet stall and call out, “Hey, Slumdog…”)
This marks a less-than-auspicious screenwriting debut for Michael Diliberti, based on a story he conceived with Matthew Sullivan. I hope they go on to bigger and better things, possibly in some other field.
And yes, I realize that some viewers will find it funny. I just don’t want to have dinner with those people…or have them judge a screenplay competition. If you find yourself stuck in a summer shower and the only movie playing at the local theater is 30 Minutes or Less, my advice is: stay outside and get wet.