by Ryan Hill
Director Ruben Fleischer burst onto the scene in 2009 with “Zombieland,” a hilarious, exciting genre mash-up that became a surprise hit. Now Fleischer is back with his sophomore effort “30 Minutes or Less,” which plays like a game of whack-a-mole, only instead of moles it’s plot holes.
Jesse Eisenberg stars as Nick, a pizza delivery man whose life is stuck in neutral. One night, he’s sent to make a delivery in an abandoned junkyard where Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson) kidnap him and strap a bomb vest to him. They want Nick to rob a bank so Dwayne can hire a hit man to kill his rich father and then take what’s left of his old man’s money.
“30 Minutes or Less” has so many plot holes throughout that it’s surprising it became a film at all. Yes, there are funny moments, especially the bank robbery and anything with Aziz Ansari as Nick’s roommate, but the rest of the film is just a rambling, unbelievable mess due to a sloppy screenplay.
McBride is adept at playing characters with over-the-top machismo such as Kenny Powers on “Eastbound and Down,” but here he tries to play a spoiled brat in the exact same manner, which just comes across as annoying.
Eisenberg continues to morph into an unlikely leading man following his Academy Award-nominated performance in “The Social Network,” but the real breakout in “30 Minutes or Less” is Ansari, whose antics light up the screen. Sadly, the rest of the humor relies too heavily on pop culture jokes.
Anyone who was a fan of “Zombieland” probably had high expectations for Fleischer’s follow-up, but instead of getting another comedic romp that recaptures the “Zombieland” magic, “30 Minutes or Less” is a sophomore slump from a talented director, making it that much more of a disappointment. Hopefully Fleischer can shake it off and make good by finally getting to work on “Zombieland 2.”
Grade: 2/4 stars