Seemingly intent on destroying any of the artistic caché he established with The Social Network, Jesse Eisenburg plays Nick, a slacker pizza delivery guy who ends up at the wrong end of a scheme by wannabe criminal masterminds, Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson). After a pizza delivery goes wrong, Nick finds himself with a bomb strapped to his chest and ten hours to get $100,000. He enlists the help of his best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) in an attempt to rob a bank, with passably entertaining results.
Although this film is billed as a comedy, it feels as though the filmmakers couldn’t settle on one definitive tone. Most of the time the movie is as bleak as its backdrop, but occasionally it switches to frantic and energetic. It attempts to mix light-hearted laughs with crude clichéd humour, but most of the laughs come from Nick and Chet failing at being “badass criminals”, sincerely saying things like ‘Have a nice day!’ after robbing a car. A lot of the jokes are gratuitous and would have been better traded-in for more satirical fare.
Apart from the moral of the movie, which apparently is that having a bomb strapped to your chest is the best way to go from slacker to hero, the underlying theme seems to be the importance of friendship. The problem with this is that Eisenburg and Ansari lack any kind of chemistry and it’s hard to buy into their ‘bromance’ once you discover that they are actually horrible people, which results in the film lacking any real sense of pathos.
Jesse Eisenburg just isn’t really suited to comedy. He portrays well the panic of having a bomb strapped to him, but he’s a little too deadpan to match the high-energy comedy the movie attempts to capture. Aziz Ansari, however, is excellent at yelling and being wide-eyed, and is the most likeable character in a movie filled with nasty and selfish people. Both pairs of wannabe criminals are annoyingly idiotic and whenever they do something smart it just seems unbelievable.
The movie is slow to start and ends messily, but the rest is fast-paced and energetic enough to be diverting. If you’re looking for an hour and a half of raunchy humour and inept criminals, this is it. Otherwise, save your money.
In a Nutshell: 30 Minutes Or Less tries to blend together Pulp Fiction violence with Superbad bromance, and achieves neither.