Movie review: Dark story, raunchy laughs drive ’30 Minutes or Less’
In what’s shaping up to be the summer of the rude, crude R-rated comedy, “30 Minutes or Less” is a strong contender as the blackest and rawest of them all.
It’s a bleakly comic crime caper that feels like a stoner’s riff on a macabre Coen brothers concept. It’s profane and nutty, it’s fast and furious, and it delivers a fair number of queasy laughs and goofball visual payoffs in a lean, mean 90 minutes or less.
Edging out such gleeful summer vulgarities as “The Hangover Part II” and “Bad Teachers” for over-the-top raunchiness, this pitch-black crime comedy is freighted with the added, dubious dimension of being loosely based on a bizarre, real-life 2003 incident that ended in the tragic death of a bomb-strapped Pennsylvania pizza deliveryman.
Playing real tragedy for twisted laughs is a dicey proposition, at best. But first-time screenwriter Michael Diliberti at least has the courage of his convictions and goes full-out brazen in carrying them out. And hip director Ruben Fleischer (“Zombieland”) smartly invests the proceedings with a gritty visual patina, rapid-clip pacing and a raw, jangly, guitar-driven rock score that fit the movie’s off-kilter vibe.
The filmmakers characterize this as a “double buddy” movie as it focuses on two pairs of doofus best friends. Jesse Eisenberg takes the explosive lead as Nick, a slacker twentysomething drop-out who is happy enough screeching around town in a souped-up junker delivering pies for Vito’s Pizzeria (slogan: 30 minutes or less or it’s free) and smoking weed in his off hours. His pal Chet (Aziz Ansari) is a substitute teacher on track for a full-time job who nonetheless proves himself as hapless as Nick.
The second buddy duo is the profane Dwayne (Danny McBride) and his sweetly stupid pal Travis (Nick Swardson), two lamebrains who – when they’re not cleaning pools for Travis’ ex-Marine, lottery-winning dad, The Major (a hard-case Fred Ward) – hang around the garage tinkering with explosives and homemade flamethrowers.
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