Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari. Danny McBride and Nick Swardson. Two comedy duos for the price of one? Or four character actors in search of a leading man?
Either way the casting dynamic is one interesting aspect of Ruben Fleischer’s curiously unambitious follow-up to Zombieland.
Stoner pizza-delivery guy Nick may lack the necessary get-up-and-go to make internet millions, but he’s otherwise true to the Eisenberg type.
His speedy delivery record catches the attention of patricidal hick Dwayne (McBride) and sidekick Travis (Swardson), who lure Nick to a junkyard, strap a bomb to his chest and point him in the direction of the nearest bank. A panic-stricken Nick enlists the help of former bud Chet (Ansari) and thus an action-comedy mechanic is set in motion.
Despite an efficiently executed set-up and a zippy running time, there’s something oddly downbeat about 30 Minutes Or Less. Maybe it’s the shadow cast by a real-life crime – the filmmakers deny the bomb blast that killed a pizza-delivering bank robber in Pennsylvania was an influence, but that hasn’t stopped his relatives objecting. Or maybe it’s the Grand Rapids, Michigan setting; a locale better known for office furniture than inspiring vistas.
But even if you’re unfamiliar with the 2003 case and Midwestern beige is your favourite colour, you’ll soon notice there aren’t as many laughs as there should be.
The best gags come pre-worn from the trailer, while the rest are mostly swear words, which contributes to a sneaking suspicion that Fleischer is saving his energy for 2013’s all-star period drama, The Gangster Squad.
A tasty line-up, but a nihilistic tone and lacklustre script make for a fast-food action-comedy that’s diverting but throwaway.