30 MINUTES OR LESS
Starring Jesse Eisenberg,
Directed by Ruben Fleischer
Written by Michael Diliberti
Based on a story by Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan
Running time 83 mins.
Seventy percent funny, thirty percent serious. This is the ratio that worked with “Stir Crazy,” and it works for “30 Minutes or Less.”
Upshot: A pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg) gets a bomb strapped to his chest with instructions to deliver up a hundred grand stolen from a bank in under nine hours or he’ll be exploded.
That actually goes to the serious. What makes it even funnier is that the guy who comes up with the idea is played by Danny McBride (“Pineapple Express,” “Land of the Lost”). That dude’s dad (Ward), whom he hates, got ten million bucks from the Lottery back in the ‘90s, and has been blowing through it so fast, now he’s down to only one million. So the McBride character decides he better kill his dad in order to get the one million left.
Except, way he figgers, if he does the actual killing, that’s not thinking like a millionaire. Lucky for him, there’s a gal at a strip club who knows a guy who’ll off the dad for a mere hundred grand. Hence the bank robbery, which McBride also does not want to do, in the manner of a millionaire.
Meanwhile, both McBride and Eisenberg each have a best pal. Most of the laughs come from these two sets of friendships, both of which are hugely dysfunctional. Think Ralph Kramden and Ed Norton from “The Honeymooners” in the case of the murder-plotters.
But if Danny McBride steals the show in “Pineapple Express,” it’s Aziz Ansari who does that here. As the buddy of the guy wearing the bomb, he has a film presence which needs to be seen to be appreciated. Like Kal Penn in the hilarious “Harold and Kumar” movies, Ansari plays an Indian-American with hardly any of the stereotypes—he doesn’t sound like Apu from “The Simpsons” at all.
It’s just a different kind of movie. And entirely refreshing at that. With only a bit a drawback, which is wholly subjective on my part: I have a hard time listening to Jesse Eisenberg speak. Almost every utterance comes out sounding very clipped and whiny. He sounds all the time petulant. Like fingernails raked down a chalkboard, it’s just hard on the ears. Same problem with the otherwise excellent “Zombieland” (also directed by Fleischer). I specifically didn’t watch that Facebook movie where he plays Mark Zuckerberg because I saw the trailer where he sits at a table and says, “What part don’t you understand?” With that damn tone that makes Woody Allen sound like James Earl Jones.
But everybody besides that guy is great. Even the premise itself. So much trouble for so little money. How quaint. True, hard to imagine what a woman could see in this movie. Other than the token female thrown in. And that’s about the way it was with “Stir Crazy.”
You just never see a movie with scroungy chick pals skimming leaves out of a pool for ten bucks an hour plotting to kill anybody at all. Why is that?