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30 Minutes or Less

a film by Ruben Fleischer

With Zombieland, Ruben Fleischer's first feature, the director took the genre of living dead movies and turned it on its proverbial head. Taking satirical stabs at the genre but never going straight out parody (much in the same way of Shaun of the Dead, though to a lesser outcome) his undead debut was a thoroughly enjoyable genre riff of a movie. Now with his second film, 30 Minutes or Less, a riff on the buddy action movie, Fleischer again pits Zombieland hero Jesse Eisenberg against seemingly insurmountable odds. The only problem is, while the former film was a smart piece of comedy, this film only occasionally manages to hit the so-called mark and therefore, unlike its predecessor, is a disappointment in the whole scheme of things.

30 Minutes or Less is the story of a slacker pizza delivery guy (Eisenberg doing his usual schtick - take that as you may) who is kidnapped by two idiots, also slackers, who then attach a bomb to his chest and demand that he rob a bank and hand over $100,000 in exchange for the deactivation code to the bomb. Granted, Eisenberg and reluctant partner-in-crime Aziz Ansari (best known for his role on TV's Parks and Recreation) do have their moments, and Danny McBride and Nick Swardson have theirs as well as the aforementioned idiot duo, but the film, despite these moments, never seems to hit the smooth-running comedic pavement the way Zombieland did.

Basically, what it amounts to is, instead of creating a satiric genre riff on the buddy action film (as Edgar Wright did so well with Hot Fuzz - not to mention the satirical director again, but who better to compare to) Fleischer has made what amounts to just another routine buddy action film with the typical modicum of quite funny moments hidden amongst the rather haphazard modus operendi of the genre. The real crime here though is the wasting of someone like Eisenberg. The actor, who was nominated for an Oscar last year for his spectacularly acerbic turn in The Social Network, seems to be working well below his station here (the hopes of another Zombieland all but dashed upon the rocks of mediocrity). In all though, 30 Minutes or Less (which actually clocks in at 83 minutes), Eisenberg aside, is just another movie. Nothing more, nothing less. [08/17/11]