Review: “30 Minutes or Less” – Susan Granger

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Harking back to when buddy caper-comedies were popular, this re-boot teams nerdy Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), an aimless pizza-delivery guy, with bumbling Chet (Aziz Ansari), a substitute schoolteacher pal and his reluctant roommate, in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

When Nick is abducted by two bickering sociopaths – Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) – wearing gorilla masks, they strap a ticking C4 bomb vest to his chest and force him to rob a local bank, demanding that he come up with $100,000 in 10 hours – or else. It’s an integral part of Dwayne’s idea to hire a thug (Michael Pena) to bump off his punishing, ex-Marine father (Fred Ward) who won a multi-million-dollar lottery, so that they can open a brothel under the auspices of a tanning salon.

Named for the time-pressured pizza parlor Nick works for, it’s several slices short of a full box when it comes to making sense. Novice screenwriter Michael Diliberti doesn’t deliver enough of a heist plan or slacker subplot for director Ruben Fleischer to work with, making it a dreadful disappointment after Fleischer’s flashy first feature, “Zombieland,” which also starred Eisenberg.

What seems to have been lost entirely is that the story could have been based on a factual Pennsylvania case in 2003 in which Brian Welles tried to rob a bank while wearing a collar bomb and died after the explosive was detonated. Most memorable about this moronic, low-key exercise in racial, gay and penis jokes is the amount of inane profanity that’s spewed constantly by this quartet of losers.

Having scored an Academy Award nomination as Mark Zuckerberg in “The Social Network,” Jesse Eisenberg seems unwilling to vary from the geeky persona he’s also demonstrated in “The Squid and the Whale,” “Adventureland” and “Zombieland.” Wide-eyed and frantic, Aziz Ansari was a stand-up comic before moving to a gig on TV’s “Parks and Recreation.” Given better material, they could have worked quite well together.

On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, “30 Minutes of Less” is a pathetically stupid 3. Forget it.

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Susan Granger

Susan Granger

Susan Granger is a product of Hollywood. Her natural father, S. Sylvan Simon, was a director and producer at R.K.O., M.G.M. and Columbia Pictures; her adoptive father, Armand Deutsch, produced movies at M.G.M. As a child, Susan appeared in movies with Abbott & Costello, Red Skelton, Lucille Ball, Margaret O'Brien and Lassie. She attended Mills College in California, studying journalism with Pierre Salinger, and graduated from the University of Pennsylvania, Phi Beta Kappa, with highest honors in journalism. During her adult life, Susan has been on radio and television as an anchorwoman and movie/drama critic. Her newspaper reviews have been syndicated around the world, and she has appeared on American Movie Classics cable television. In addition, her celebrity interviews and articles have been published in REDBOOK, PLAYBOY, FAMILY CIRCLE, COSMOPOLITAN, WORKING WOMAN and THE NEW YORK TIMES, as well as in PARIS MATCH, ELLE, HELLO, CARIBBEAN WORLD, ISLAND LIFE, MACO DESTINATIONS, NEWS LIMITED NEWSPAPERS (Australia), UK DAILY MAIL, UK SUNDAY MIRROR, DS (France), LA REPUBBLICA (Italy), BUNTE (Germany), VIP TRAVELLER (Krisworld) and many other international publications through SSG Syndicate. Susan also lectures on the "Magic and Mythology of Hollywood" and "Don't Take It Personally: Conquering Criticism and other Survival Skills," originally published on tape by Dove Audio.