30 Minutes or Less
- Paul Gallagher
- 22 September 2011
Funny and silly diversion from director of Zombieland
Reuniting Ruben Fleischer and Jesse Eisenberg, director and star of the hit comedy Zombieland (2009), this funny and silly diversion just about matches the previous film in terms of laughs, although it lacks the mix of invention and unique characterisation that made Zombieland particularly special.
Here Eisenberg plays Nick, a pizza delivery driver – hence the title – whose life consists of watching 80s action movies and refusing to get a ‘proper job’ like his best friend, schoolteacher Chet (Aziz Ansari). In a needlessly convoluted set-up, a pair of wannabe criminals (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson) kidnap Nick, strap a homemade bomb to his chest and threaten to detonate it in 10 hours unless he steals one hundred thousand dollars from a local bank for them. The reason they want the money is so they can pay a hitman (Michael Peña) to off McBride’s millionaire father (Fred Ward), but really the motives are irrelevant; Michael Diliberti’s script values laughs over logic, and fortunately enough of the gags hit their targets to make it easy to forgive the story’s shortcomings.
Realising he has no option but to rob the bank, Nick convinces Chet to help him, and Fleischer correspondingly kicks the film into action as they plan the heist, carry it out and deal with the increasingly desperate consequences. There’s some well-staged manic car chase action, nicely connecting with Nick’s love of 80s movies, while the cast have fun with Diliberti’s witty (and frequently potty-mouthed) observational dialogue. Ansari, previously seen in bit-parts and TV shows, is the stand-out performer, and he steals all the biggest laughs from under Eisenberg’s nose as the disapproving and incredulous ‘grown up’ friend.