My funny bone was shattered after enduring the debacle of comedy that was "The Change-Up." If I had to sit through another painfully humorless comedy for the second week in a row, I might have risked never being able to laugh again.
Fortunately for my sake, "30 Minutes or Less" managed to deliver the goods in the laugh department. As far as dark comedies go, the film doesn't quite exceed "Horrible Bosses" or "Pineapple Express." But there are just enough funny moments and clever plot twists for me to give the film a pass.
After writing, producing and starring in the lazy "Your Highness," Danny McBride redeems himself with a role more suited to his talent.
He plays Dwayne, a middle-aged slacker who spends all of his time blowing stuff up with his pal Travis, played by Nick Swardson. Dwayne can't wait for his strict father, played by Fred Ward, to kick the bucket so he can inherit his millions.
While getting a lap dance at a strip club, Dwayne gets the idea to have his father killed. The unemployed Dwayne lacks the funds to hire a hit man though. Not wanting to get their own hands dirty, Dwayne and Travis hatch a plan to have somebody else steal the money for their hit man.
The two airheads kidnap a pizza delivery boy named Nick, played by Jesse Eisenberg, and strap an explosive device to him. They tell Nick that he has the rest of the day to get them $10,000. If Nick can't deliver, then he'll be blown to smithereens.
Eisenberg is really quite good here as a hopeless young man that suddenly finds himself under extremely dire and unlikely circumstances. Any other actor would probably just go over-the-top and come off as obnoxious in this role. But Eisenberg is surprisingly convincing and creates a grounded character.
With "Adventureland," "Zombieland," "Solitary Man" and his Oscar-nominated work in "The Social Network," some people might assume that Eisenberg is being typecast as a nerd.
While all of his characters might be nerds to an extent, they all have different beats and never feel like the same person. Between all of his performances, Eisenberg demonstrates that he truly has great range as an actor and is reminiscent of a young Dustin Hoffman.
The funniest performance in the film comes from Aziz Ansari, who has made a five-minute cameo in every other comedy to come out in the past five years. Here he is upgraded to the best friend role as Chet, who agrees to help out Nick with a bank robbery. Ansari steals the film's best lines, adding his unique wide-eyed, high-pitch-voiced persona to the equation. He's kind of like an Indian Eddie Murphy or a Chris Tucker that you don't want to punch.
At times "30 Minutes or Less" is somewhat reminiscent of a Coen Brother's movie with stupid people getting caught up in a stupid plan that goes horribly wrong. This film is much more lowbrow than a Coen Brother's movie though. While it's fun, the film doesn't have the timelessness of "The Big Lebowski," "Raising Arizona," or "Fargo."
As a late summer action comedy though, the film is directed with plenty of kinetic energy from Ruben Fleischer and doesn't pile on too many uneven sentimental scenes. It's not a film I need to see again or will necessarily remember a year from now. But it certainly healed my funny bone after a beating I thought it would never recover from.