30 Minutes Or Less [DVD]
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Nearly a decade ago, in Erie, PA, not far from my own hometown, a pizza delivery man was taken hostage, strapped with homemade C4, and forced to rob a bank. Unfortunately, in this case, real life turned out far more grim than the comical story that plays out in 30 Minutes Or Less. Inspired by the bizarre kidnapping/heist, director Ruben Fleischer (Zombieland) has returned with another darkly laced, hilarious comedy. It takes slightly less than 30 minutes to warm up to the film's semi unlikable characters, but once you've buddied up, you are in for a tickling.
Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a young, Mustang drivin' pizza delivery man, fed up with his crappy job, and lack of luck, unlike his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari), who has recently landed a stable teaching job. After a heated divulging of unforgivables, their friendship melts down. Meanwhile, Dwayne (Danny McBride), a spoiled stay-at-home son devises a plan to whack his lotto winning father for the instant inheritance, and he enlists the help of his bomb building friend Travis (Nick Swardson) to tag team the mission with him. They decide to hire a hitman, but need $100 large for the job. Dwayne decides they need to rob a bank, but he doesn't want to risk it himself, so he orders a pizza with the intention of abducting the unlucky deliveryman, forcing him to rob the local bank or blow to smithereens.
The film kicks off with a raucous opening sequence, but once introduced to McBride and Swardson's characters, the film instantly slows down. They're generally revolting, yet lovable appeal takes some investment that eventually does pays off, but this shouldn't be so. Main villains constructed as the dumb, vulgar, but ultimately likable characters should not make a bad first impression. Unfortunately, Dwayne and Travis do just that, acting more dim witted and ridiculous than they actually are for the remainder of the film. Eisenberg and Ansari on the other hand instantly make for an excellent spitfire tag team, despite their relationship instantly falling apart. Their fast paced delivery style works incredibly well together. Outside of Dwayne and Travis's false start, the script is wickedly funny. There is no discrimination in offensive material either, spanning from trashy gutter humor to straight-faced multi-racial jokes, 30 Minutes packs it all. The film also foreshadows a bit too much, laying out much of the story in obvious fashion before it actually takes place. Luckily, the plot is not the comedy command center of the film.
Sony has put together a filling, personal pan sized DVD release for the film. As expected with new releases, the transfer looks quite good in SD. Colors and detail are tight and natural throughout. The often raucous 5.1 Dolby Digital track gets a workout with pumping music and the occasional aggressive soundscapes. For extras there is a standard 'making of' bit titled, “Blowing Up with the Cast & Crew of 30 Minutes or Less.” Other than that, there is only a short number of deleted scenes and outtakes included. The disc comes packaged in a standard DVD case.
Not everything works, and the source material is a bit morbid, but Fleisher's sophomore effort is a very funny comedy with a solid cast, featuring a breakout performance for Aziz Ansari. I would be very surprised if I didn't see him in a lot of big screen comedies in the next couple years. 30 Minutes or Less is a reminder to hold friendships close, and your pizza deliveryman closer. So, order a personal pan, and strap in.
--Jordan M. Smith
Release Date: November 29, 2011