30 Minutes or Less

There are plaques and bumper stickers with a saying that goes something like “A bad day (fill in the blank) beats a good day at work.”  My friends and I often think about what we would do if we ever won a big prize in the lottery.  Whether we like our jobs or not, everyone says they would quit work and do just whatever they wanted for a change.  Telling your boss goodbye with no fear or regrets is probably what most people working 9 to 5 dream about.  There are people who hate where they work and would love to walk into the boss’s office and tell them what they can do with their job no matter what the consequences.  In this week’s movie, “30 Minutes or Less,” a guy who hates his job has a really bad day that only gets worse; but, he also finds it liberating.
 
Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) is a slacker who delivers pizzas for a local restaurant in Grand Rapids, Michigan.  A slacker with little potential and less motivation, Nick doesn’t let any stop sign or traffic light impede his deliveries to the customers.  It isn’t that he likes his job or the customers (he doesn’t), he just enjoys driving fast.  His best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) is a school teacher.  The two play video games and watch action movies but do little else.  Chet’s sister, Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria) works in a florist shop but has bigger dreams.  She has just gotten a job with a large hotel chain that will require her to move to Atlanta.  This upsets Nick because he has feelings for Kate.  Across town, Dwayne (Danny McBride) is the slacker son of The Major (Fred Ward), a domineering retired Marine who hit the lottery for $10-million.  The Major has a big house filled with tacky decorations and spends his winnings on monster trucks and other big boy toys.  Dwayne hates his father and, along with his moron buddy Travis (Nick Swardson), devises a plan to kill him.  He hires a Detroit hit man named Chango (Michael Pena) for $100,000 to kill his dad.  To get the money for the hit, Dwayne calls for a pizza, knocks out Nick when he arrives and straps a bomb vest to him.  When Nick wakes up, he’s told he needs to rob a bank in 10 hours or the vest explodes.  If he goes to the police, the vest explodes because they will be following him.  When he delivers the money, he’ll be given a 6-digit code to unlock the vest.  Nick freaks out and goes to Chet for help, even though the two had a fight over various secret revelations that ended their friendship.
 
“30 Minutes or Less” is the kind of slacker comedy that is filled with unpleasant people saying unpleasant things.  No one in the film is overly likable, except Kate who is the one island of decency in a sea of crap.  While the movie has funny bits scattered about, it doesn’t deliver a steady stream of laughs to overcome the ugliness filling the long sections in between.  While the premise is filled with possibilities for an unflinching black comedy, the screenplay by Matthew Sullivan and Michael Diliberti takes several easy pathways to get the audience to a fairly predictable conclusion.
 
The cast, filled with fine actors and funny people, is largely wasted on expletive-filled dialog that only cements the notion that almost no one in the movie is worth caring about.  From the slacker pizza boy and his obnoxious friend to the stupid criminal masterminds and the stereotypical Hispanic gang banger, “30 Minutes or Less” is filled with the dregs of society put on display to entertain us.  It’s comparable to paying admission for the “Jerry Springer Show,” only with no cross dressers.  Had the movie taken a few chances and led us down a blind alley or two, it might have made these people interesting if not terribly likable.  An interesting rogue is much more entertaining than a boring one.
 
“30 Minutes or Less” is rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity and some violence.  There is a great deal of talk about sexual positions and activities with a fair amount of graphic detail.  A scene in a strip bar has some nudity and a woman fondles her own breasts.  There’s a suggestion of a sex act carried out in a car but it isn’t shown.  The violence is mostly brief although it is bloody at times.  We see a couple of people set on fire.  Foul language comprises most of the script.
 
Several years ago, a man with a bomb attached to a metal collar around his neck robbed a bank.  He died when police stopped him after the robbery and the bomb exploded.  There was a rather bizarre plot discovered during the investigation which implicated the victim as well as other people in the robbery.  The family of the victim, who never believed their loved one was part of the bank heist, has expressed anger and disgust at the making of a movie comedy that partially mirrors the 2003 tragedy.  Their anger may be misplaced as the movie has several story differences to what happened to their relative; however, their negative feelings about the movie are, in my estimation, accurate.  Not because of its subject matter, but due to its implementation.
 
“30 Minutes or Less” gets two guitars out of five.
 
Four new movies, three of which are sequels or franchise reboots, hit screens this week.  Vote for the film you’d like me to review next.
 
Conan the Barbarian—The savage Cimmerian warrior is the only hope of saving the nations of Hyboria from an encroaching reign of supernatural evil.
 
One Day—Anne Hathaway and Jim Sturgess meet on college graduation day and proceed to reunite one day a year for the next twenty years.
 
Spy Kids:  All the Time in the World—A retired secret agent, now juggling a family, is called back into action when a maniacal villain threatens to take over the planet.
 
Fright Night—A teenager realizes that the mysterious guy next door is actually a bloodthirsty vampire preying on the neighborhood.
 
Stan’s Choice—Stan sees and reviews any movie of his choice currently in theatres.
 
Release dates are subject to change and not all films may be shown in Knoxville, TN.
 
Have a question or comment?  Send it to stanthemovieman@att.net.  Follow Stan on Twitter @moviemanstan.