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August 13, 2011 | 10:55 a.m. CST
Eight years ago, a bomb strapped to a bank robber exploded while the police were waiting for a bomb squad in Erie, Penn. Before his death, the bandit told authorities that he was kidnapped and forced to perform the heist under threat of detonation. This bizarre episode served as inspiration for director Ruben Fleischer’s second feature-length film — following 2009’s Zombieland —and the resulting action-comedy, 30 Minutes or Less, is as irreverent as the very idea to make the movie in the first place.
The unrefined nature of the film is accented by lewd dialogue and comedy that pushes the boundaries of political correctness. This brand of discourse is nothing new to big-budget comedies, but 30 Minutes or Less utilizes the style popularized by movies like 40-Year-Old Virgin in a story more suitable for a dramatic thriller, a bold move that audience members either perceive as brilliant or incredibly insensitive.Related Movie
Like Zombieland, the film also stars Jesse Eisenberg, who plays the kidnapped pizza deliveryman turned bandit, Nick. Although the Oscar-nominee appears, at times, uncomfortable delivering the film’s coarse dialogue, Eisenberg draws laughs as consistently as any of his comedian costars, which include Danny McBride (Eastbound and Down) and Nick Swardson (Grandma’s Boy). At one point he even pokes fun at his recent success; telling a friend he doesn’t check Facebook, he’s “off the grid.”
But the film’s funniest moments belong to Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation), whose abrasive brand of humor fits comfortably into the film. Ansari plays Chet, a young schoolteacher who helps his friend, Nick, steal a car, commit armed robbery, and thwart the plans of two amateur criminals, played by McBride and Swardson.
30 Minutes or Less is not for everyone. It parodies a disturbingly real incident while simultaneously sensationalizing it with multiple car chases and other action movie staples. But for fans of dark comedy, it’s definitely worth seeing.