{2jtab: Movie Review}

30 Minutes or Less


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3 stars

Snaking its way through 30 Minutes or Less, the sophomore big screen effort from Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, is a foreboding sense of dread and darkness that permeates the humor like a stabbing reality check. Whether totally deliberate or simply a by-product of our tainted memory recalling the similarly disturbing real-life event that inspired the story, there’s no question it’s used to maximum effect here.

Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a down and out pizza delivery guy, stuck and directionless. It takes a bomb getting strapped to his chest to finally light a fire under him, so to speak. That fire comes from a couple of lowlifes with more ambition than brains in the forms of Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) who kidnap Nick and force him to rob a bank by strapping a Bomb-laden vest to him with a timer rigged to go off in just 10 hours. With nowhere else to go, Nick turns to his former best friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari). With the clock ticking down and doomsday literally just hours away, Nick and Chet are forced to put their geeky knowledge of heist films to use, and rob a bank.

It’s not an easy task fashioning a successful slacker comedy these days. Look around. The road ditch is littered with the bones of wannabees, has-beens and never-weres. Too many filmmakers today mistake a hard-R rating and shoddy shock value with humor and relevance. But because of the way he also handled his first film, the genuinely hilarious Zombieland, we’re reluctant to say Fleischer just got lucky with 30 Minutes or Less. Balancing the film’s raunchy comedic tone with just the right amount of action and slap-to-the-face reality takes a deft hand. And that’s exactly what he does here.

But more important to making these films work is knowing when enough is enough. The film’s brief 82-minute runtime along with Michael Diliberti’s breezy script that never completely wears out its welcome make for a fun, if not occasionally squirmy, time at the movies. We’re not talking masterful comedy here, but rather get-in, get-out sophomoric musings tinged with darkly sardonic humor. Just what the doctor ordered in a summer season busting at the seams with crude-for-crude’s sake offerings and lycra-tighted super heroes saving the world from the scourge of evil.

Fleischer also scores big points from his actors and the way he handles the story's characters. Eisenberg is still the same put-upon nerd he is in most of his films, but reteaming with his Zombieland director allows Eisenberg to walk a fine line between showing his fear and allowing the comedy to come to fruition. Despite his sometimes-hateful actions and the poor life choices he makes, we become attached to Nick and are actually concerned about his outcome. The same can even be said for McBride’s Dwayne who despite his terrible, intimidating demeanor, is also endearing and quite funny. A concept he failed to grasp in Your Highness. Swardson’s Travis, the beta to Dwayne’s alpha dog, is always funny as the bumbling bomb-making expert and takes on a whole new comedic life every time he dons his monkey mask disguise.

Initially taking over as one of the most polarizing and abrasive characters this side of Jar Jar Binks, Ansari eventually finds his comedy legs and the movie subsequently benefits greatly. His Chet doesn’t have much going on in life, is girlfriend-less, and considers watching movies and playing video games the pinnacle of his achievements… until the opportunity to help Nick rob a bank comes along.

With 30 Minutes or Less, Fleischer doesn’t strike the same witty chords he did with Zombieland. Nor does the film feel as fresh and original, especially considering its subject matter. In fact, the film shouldn’t have worked as well as it does. Mostly a rhythmless mélange of comedy skits stitched together with the thread of fine performances and a touch of morbid danger, 30 Minutes or Less will be forgotten in far less time, but for the 82 minutes it’s on the screen, it never runs out of comedic steam.

{2jtab: Film Details}

30 Minutes or LessMPAA Rating: R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity and some violence.
Director: Ruben Fleischer
: Michael Diliberti
Jesse Eisenberg; Danny McBride; Aziz Ansari; Nick Swardson; Dilshad Vadsaria; Michael Pena
: Comedy
Memorable Movie Quote:
"Guess what? You just brought a gun to a bombfight, officer!"
30 Minutes or Less.
Columbia Pictures
Official Site:

Release Date: August 12, 2011
Blu-ray Release Date:
November 29, 2011

Plot Synopsis: Two cash-strapped criminals decide to plan a bank robbery using a hapless pizza boy named Nick. Nick is abducted and fitted with a time-bomb vest, giving him nine hours to do the deed. In desperation Nick turns to his former friend Chet, who is currently furious at Nick for sleeping with his sister. Chet gets entangled in the disaster despite his better judgment, and the two of them have to get past their differences if they want to steer clear of cops and hit men.

{2jtab: Blu-ray/DVD Details}

30 Minutes or Less - Blu-ray review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
3 stars

5 Stars

Blu-ray Experience
4 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - November 29, 2011
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); Bonus View (PiP); BD-Live
Playback: Region A

Once again, Sony brings their A-game when delivering their comedies to the HD market.  The 1080p transfer crackles with color and steams with smoldering details.  It’s another well-balanced palette where the details are just as edgy as the humor.  Clothing textures are rich with fine texture and great punch.  Shadows are deep and natural and never shy away from being hard-edged.  Backgrounds are full of visual punch and the interior shine with glossy finesse.  The bold DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack is dynamic and booms with auditory assault.  From beginning to end, this is another – in a very long line – of great releases from Sony.



  • The commentary – provided by director Ruben Fleischer and actors Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, and Nick Swardson – is wrapped inside a wonderful picture-in-picture feature that runs the length of the movie.  The commentary is full of wonderful stories from the shoot and scenes that were cut and, of course, the adlibbing from all those involved.  It’s a fun commentary that is as informative as it is entertaining.

Special Features:

The two featurettes on the disc are filled with information about the shoot, actor interviews, the process of bringing the screenplay to the screen, and behind-the-scenes sneak peeks.  The rest of the supplementals are composed of outtakes (“Travis Thinks the Major is Jacked”, “Chet Tells Nick Worse Ways to Die”, and “Dwayne and Travis Talk Tanning Codes”) and a whole slew of deleted scenes (“Christopher Fires and Then Rehires Nick”, “Nick Wakes Up Late/Rear View Mirror”, “Dwayne and Travis Raid the Fridge”, “Dwayne's Dream Sequence”, “Nick Throws-Up at Side of Road”, “Nick and Chet Leave School/Chet Calls in Excuse”, “Chango F&(@$ Juicy”, “Nick Chases Chet”, “Dwayne Finds Major Wounded”, and “Vito's Commercial”).

  • Blowing Up with the Cast & Crew of ‘30 Minutes or Less’ (14 min)
  • The Perfect Crime: Action and Comedy in ‘30 Minutes or Less’ (11 min)
  • Deleted Scenes (12 min)
  • Outtakes (6 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}