30 Minutes Or Less

Year: 2011
Studio: Columbia
Director: Ruben Fleischer
Writer: Michael Diliberti/Matthew Sullivan
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Michael Péna, Fred Ward

This film is to Jesse Eisenberg what The Sitter was the Jonah Hill. He'd appeared mostly in frat boy-ish comedies until a certain point and suddenly he was in one of the most lauded films, the Oscar-nominated Moneyball. It seemed a thrilling new direction for his unique persona, and then he appeared in (squandered, many would say) another gross out stoner-style comedy more like his back catalogue.

Eisenberg did something similar. Zombieland and Adventureland were good but nothing about his performance in them was going to set the world on fire. Then suddenly awards buzz swirled around him because of his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in Fincher and Sorkin's titanic The Social Network.

This looked like he was back on his old track, a bland hero role in a teen-style comedy that didn't really trade on his young Woody Allen shtick. Unlike Hill, however, Eisenberg seems to be trying to trade on his dramatic kudos as I write this, appearing – ironically – in a Woody Allen movie.

He plays Nick, a loser pizza delivery guy whose life is going nowhere and who's in love with the sister of his best friend and roommate Chet (Ansari). His life collides with that of two even bigger losers, self-deluded man-children Dwayne (McBride) and Travis (Swardson), who hatch a plan to make enough money to get Dwayne's snide, overbearing military Dad (Ward) killed.

They take Nick hostage, strap a bomb to him and tell him if he doesn't rob a bank and deliver the money to their fearsome hired hitman Chango (Péna), they'll detonate it. While the desperate Nick ropes Chet into an increasingly awry bank robbery and getaway, the clueless Dwayne and Travis have no idea how little they're really pulling the strings in the background.

It's a high concept pitch that allows for a fair number of laughs but doesn't stretch anyone involved and would be a lot less interesting in a world where The Social Network never existed.

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