In 2003, a pizza delivery man named Brian Douglas Wells was apprehended by police for robbing a local bank. In a strange twist, Wells revealed to the police that he had a bomb strapped to him. Wells told them that he was an unwilling participant in the robbery; he had been kidnapped, and told by his kidnappers that unless he completed the robbery within a certain time limit, the bomb would explode. A bomb squad was called by the police. Less than 15 minutes later, before the bomb squad could arrive, the bomb exploded, killing Wells.
Seemingly inspired by this story, “30 Minutes or Less” takes this premise, hacks away at its disturbing edges and replaces them with the pseudo-improvised raunch comedy of the Apatow generation. Jesse Eisenberg plays the unlucky pizza delivery guy, who is forced by the comedic duo of Danny McBride and Nick Swardson to rob a bank. McBride and Swardson’s ultimate goal is to use the stolen cash to to finance a hit on McBride’s millionaire father, a tough as nails Marine played by Fred Ward. Eisenberg’s best friend, played by Aziz Ansari, tags along to give Eisenberg someone to talk to during his adventure.
Despite the best efforts of a solid comedic cast, “30 Minutes or Less” succumbs to a weak script. All too often, vulgarity is mistaken for low brow comedy as the aimless narrative sends characters into the extended chase scene that makes up the movie. Despite the meandering script, Ansari and McBride excel in the semi-improvised environment. Ansari’s anxious energy propels his interaction with the low key Eisenberg, while McBride’s profanity laced riffs provide some of the only laugh out loud moments of the entire 120 minute running time.