Tuesday, 13 September 2011

30 Minutes or Less, Ruben Fleischer's follow-up to his 2009 zom-com Zombieland, reunites the American director with star Jesse Eisenberg. ZuckerEisenberg plays Nick, a lazy pizza delivery boy unhappy with his job who often struggles to meet the company promise of pizza delivery in 30 minutes or less (fitting with the theme of speed, let's say ≤30Mins). Unsurprisingly, his situation only worsens when Nick finds himself kidnapped, wakes up with a bomb strapped to his chest and is given ten hours to rob a bank before it detonates.

Centreing on the comedic rapport between not one, but two double acts - Nick and his friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) and dim criminals (diminals?) Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson), the film doesn't get off to a fantastic start. The majority of the first act is made up of juvenile humour - you know the sort, people arguing over whose sister they've slept with, crude euphemisms for penises, et cetera - and fails to be funny. However, once the bomb vest is strapped on and the plot starts to move, ≤30Mins becomes punctuated by many actually very hilarious moments. The jokes come fast and many hit the right chords, obviously aimed at the typical 21st century nerd - topics for humour include the internet, 3D films, a very clever use of a laser pen and even a joke about "that's what she said" 'jokes'. Combining this with the fast pace of the direction, Fleischer clearly knows his youthful target audience and it pays off, giving the film a contemporary yet intelligent and unpatronising style.

The cast are, in general, one of the major downsides of ≤30Mins. The majority of the cast, particularly Ansari and McBride, are more than a bit wooden in terms of conveying any form of realistic emotional character. I also don't like Ansari's shirt. On the other hand, there were never going to be any Academy Awards for Best Actor going to this kind of light-hearted comedy and this is not a major problem if the jokes are to your tastes. In contrast to his co-stars, however, Eisenberg shines in his first screen role since getting nominated for that aforementioned Oscar with The Social Network. Hollywood's go-to guy for young nerds shows that he can pull off the role of a comic hero effectively, giving Nick the right mix of laziness and energy, cleverness and pitiability, and a little bit of comedic pathos to boot.

≤30Mins is an enjoyably energetic little comedy that doesn't push any boundaries and is far from the greatest comedy you'll ever see, but, especially if modern geek culture is your kind of thing, is worth watching for the sporadic laugh out loud, roll on floor laughing, laughing your fucking arse off moments. I only literally carried out the first of those three actions, but that's quite funny enough.


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