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Failed Delivery 

'30 Minutes or Less' bombs at making comedy out of a real tragedy

Remember that poor sap Brian Douglas Wells, the pizza deliveryman who robbed a bank eight years ago with a bomb strapped to his neck? The bomb eventually detonated and killed Wells—an event that was decidedly unfunny.

Apparently, director Ruben Fleischer and his screenwriters remember Wells, because they have made a comedy about a fictional pizza deliveryman forced to rob a bank with a bomb strapped to his body.

Like the event that killed Wells 8 years ago, 30 Minutes or Less is decidedly unfunny.

You would have to come up with something really funny to justify making this story into a comedy. (The filmmakers claim only a small, passing knowledge of the events that killed Wells. Yeah, right.) Instead, Fleischer and friends come up miles short with a movie that doesn't even have enough material to fill its 83 minutes.

Jesse Eisenberg plays Nick, an underachieving pizza-delivery guy who finds himself in the bomb predicament after two dumbasses (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) force him into a bank robbery. They have a multi-tiered crime scheme that will eventually lead to the opening of their very own erotic tanning salon, and they need $100,000 to get the ball rolling.

Nick enlists the help of his schoolteacher friend, Chet (Aziz Ansari, the only one who gets consistent laughs in this movie), who begrudgingly goes along to help, even after Nick confesses to sleeping with Chet's sister (Dilshad Vadsaria) on graduation night.

The movie is a worthless, misguided affair featuring an undeniable roster of talent. For starters, the movie tries to squeeze laughs repeatedly out of the art of pizza delivery. Nick often doesn't deliver his pizzas on time, so the pizzas are free. Ha, ha, ha. Sometimes Nick scams the pizza recipients out of their money, because he's so darned clever. Hee, hee, hee.

Why not make a movie out of how funny it is when the dude at the popcorn counter tries to up-sell you from a small popcorn to a medium? The person buying the popcorn could be, like, "Hey, I'm only one guy, and the medium will make me fat if I eat it!" The dude selling it could reply, "Hey, but it's only 75 cents more. Go for it, and cough up the extra dough, you dick!"

Actually, I think my popcorn-counter movie is a funnier idea than this pizza-guy movie. And my popcorn-counter idea sucks balls.

McBride hasn't been catching any breaks this year. He's a funny guy, but he's lost here, as is Swardson. (A trailer for an upcoming movie that Swardson headlines, Bucky Larson: Born to Be a Star, previewed before the movie. I don't like to prejudge a movie by its trailer, but it sure does look like pure dog shit.)

Eisenberg is a charming actor, but I'm not sure he has the comedic goods to carry a funny movie. However, Ansari proves, yet again, that he's one of the more valuable supporting comedic performers out there. This movie would be totally awful without his presence. As it stands, it is almost a near-miss thanks to Ansari's work.

The mere existence of a movie like 30 Minutes or Less shows that Hollywood is desperate for ideas. How about a dramatic movie about that poor bastard getting blown up after a botched bank heist? Well, maybe. But a movie that tries to get you to laugh at somebody in an almost identical plight ... starring the ever-hilarious Jesse Eisenberg? Hell no!

30 Minutes or Less
Rated R · 83 minutes · 2011
Official Site: www.30minutesorless.com
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Producer: Stuart Cornfeld, Ben Stiller, Jeremy Kramer, Monica Levinson and Brian Levy
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Michael Peña, Fred Ward, Dilshad Vadsaria, Bianca Kajlich, Elizabeth Shapiro, Brett Gelman, Paul Tierney, Staci Fletcher, Gary Brichetto and Ilyssa Fradin

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More by Bob Grimm

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What others are saying (6)

Indy Week A pizza delivery guy becomes a criminal in 30 Minutes or Less There's something refreshing about an action story where the characters' dunderheaded, illogical actions are constantly called out. by Zack Smith 08/10/2011
Colorado Springs Independent Opening this week 30 Minutes or Less, Final Destination 5, Glee the 3D Concert Movie 08/11/2011
Colorado Springs Independent Cystic pizza: 30 Minutes or Less Welcome to the depressing world of director Ruben Fleischer. by Justin Strout 08/11/2011
3 more reviews...
Boise Weekly The Projector: Movies opening Friday, Aug. 12 Runaway brides, an accidental pizza delivery thief, the Glee kids on the big screen, getting along with the help, the final Final Destination and why we should never forget that chimps aren't human. It's all at the movies. 08/12/2011
Creative Loafing Atlanta 30 Minutes or Less delivers on junky action-comedy Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari make a great team by Curt Holman 08/12/2011
Portland Mercury More Is Less Time bombs and tacky riffing in 30 Minutes or Less. by Vince Mancini 08/11/2011

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