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'30 Minutes or Less' Review: Moronic Fun


Okay, this is a dopey film, one you can imagine being cooked up over the course of a beery Hollywood weekend. Basically–and believe me, it’s a very basic movie, running just 83 minutes–the story concerns two idiots who shanghai a not-much-brighter pizza delivery guy, strap him with a vest full of explosives, and force him to rob a bank for them or they’ll use their vest-bomb remote to turn him into a drifting red mist. It’s a ridiculous plan, occasioned by the alpha idiot’s need for $100,000 to pay a hit man to kill his wealthy father so that the idiot can inherit dad’s money and realize his dream of opening a tanning salon that would actually be a front for a whorehouse.


As preposterous as all of this sounds, the story is pretty clearly modeled on an actual 2003 Pennsylvania case involving another not-very-bright pizza delivery guy, Brian Wells, who took part–willingly, in Wells’ case–in robbing a bank for two real-life idiots. Wells agreed to be fitted with what he thought was a fake time bomb; he was apprehended by police in mid-heist, though, and then discovered, in one sudden, explosive moment, that the bomb was in fact not fake.

There is, let’s be honest, something absurdly humorous about this tale. But Wells’ death would make it a little too heavy for a summer comedy, no matter how dumb. And so the writers who concocted 30 Minutes or Less eliminated that part (knowing this, trust me, spoils nothing) and shoveled in some less off-putting elements. Here, the Wells character, a slacker named Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), has been given a best friend named Chet (Aziz Ansari). Chet is a schoolteacher, which you’d think would make him a more level-headed fellow than his pizza-shuttling pal. But after Nick, in the midst of delivering a pie, gets strong-armed into his bomb vest by the two morons, Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson), Chet agrees, after some token remonstrance, to help Nick out with the bank job. Why would he do that? And why wouldn’t Nick go straight to the police in the first place? Are you really asking?

Read the full review here.

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