Wilson Webb
Lisa Schwarzbaum
August 17, 2011 AT 04:00 AM EDT

30 Minutes or Less

Current Status
In Season
83 minutes
Wide Release Date
Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson
Ruben Fleischer
Columbia Pictures
Comedy, ActionAdventure

We gave it a B+

In the impressively loopy, dirt-black heist comedy 30 Minutes or Less, a shambling Michigan pizza delivery guy named Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) winds up locked in a bomb-rigged vest wired to go off unless he robs a bank. Why? Because a scheming dum-dum named Dwayne (Danny McBride) needs $100,000 to pay a hitman (Michael Peña) to ice the dum-dum’s sadistic ex-Marine father (Fred Ward) so the good-for-nothing Dwayne can inherit Dad’s dough, and Nick’s the unlucky SOB Dwayne kidnaps and forces to do his criminal bidding. Why? Well, because this stuff happens sometimes, as it did to a real Pennsylvania pizza guy under similar circumstances back in 2003. (The outcome wasn’t pretty.)

Now on to a harder question: How does such a warped premise — with real, no-joke life-and-death consequences built into the suspense — become a movie that’s weirdly funny and fast-paced, not to mention determinedly mean, filthy, and jackass irresponsible? To which my answer is, I don’t know; 30 Minutes shouldn’t work. But it does. A stoner movie without the spliff smoke, it’s proudly, sexually lewd with no cushion of boyish sweetness. (Ah, the invaluable Danny McBride touch!) There’s plenty of male-on-male insults, amiably amped up because Dwayne’s doofus ”bomb expert” sidekick is played by crazy-comic Nick Swardson, and Nick’s ex?best friend (who nevertheless helps out under the circumstances) is played by Parks and Recreation‘s notable Aziz Ansari. The script, a hot commodity by Michael Diliberti from a story by Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan, barrels along on sharp-tongued gusts of outrage — and one great joke at the expense of The Hurt Locker. And the ensemble cast, led by a whirlybirding Eisenberg (whose character actually says, ”I don’t check Facebook,” hah!), charges ahead, steered by director Ruben Fleischer with some of the same daredevil balancing acts he (and Eisenberg) displayed in Zombieland. There’s nothing nice about 30 Minutes or Less. It’s got no redeeming social value. It just ticks away, exploding all notions of where you think it’s going to go. It blew me sideways. B+

You May Like