August has long been a dumping ground for summer movies that studios deemed unable to hack it during May, June or July. The recent releases of the Conan remake and Final Destination 5 (please stop making those movies already) would suggest that that trend continues. However, in the last few years, August has seen some truly great films hit theaters; like Inglorious Basterds and District 9. Even though 30 Minutes or Less isn't as funny as you would hope it is, it is still a cut above the usual August movie fare.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as Nick, a slacker pizza delivery boy who doesn't exactly have high ambitions in life. On a fateful delivery, he's kidnapped by Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) and while Nick is unconcious, a bomb is strapped to his chest. Nick is then told that he has 10 hours to rob a bank otherwise they'll detonate the bomb. Nick enlists the help of his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) to rob the bank. The film has all the usual trappings of a comedy of this nature but it's the performances that elevate 30 Minutes or Less to something slightly better than you would expect.
Eisenberg is essentially what the offspring of Woody Allen and Michael Cera would be like if science could make that sort of thing possible. He gets the neurotic mannerisms from Allen and much like Cera, he basically plays the same character in every movie. Come to think of it, so does Allen. Also like Allen and Cera, Eisenberg is excellent at portraying that type of character. He's only slightly more animated in 30 Minutes or Less but he's basically the same character he was in Adventureland, Zombieland and The Social Network.
Ansari steals the show in almost every scene he's in from seemingly sheer force of will. His delivery of Chet's dialogue are some of the best moments in this movie. The scene where Chet is singing a made up song about spray painting a gun while on their way to robbing a bank was one of the more random moments in 30 Minutes or Less but it was also one of the funniest. McBride is another actor guilty of portraying the same character in everything he does and much like Eisenberg, he's perfected it. However, in this movie, McBride doesn't have enough funny dialogue to forgive him of playing the same character over and over. By the end of the movie, you can't escape the feeling that he's getting a little played out. Swardson had some decent one liners but was otherwise played a throwaway character.
As I said earlier, 30 Minutes or Less is only slightly better than it should have been. This movie is stacked with comedic talent (including Michael Pena as a hitman) but it never ends up being as hilarious as it should be. Much like Horrible Bosses, this movie isn't as funny as you would think but there are enough comedic moments and excellent one liners to keep you interested throughout. If, like me, you're a fan of pretty much everyone in this movie, then I recommend checking it out at the Cinemagic in Hooksett or Merrimack. Otherwise, you're better off waiting until DVD.