“30 Minutes or Less” is funnier for way longer than 30 minutes

"30 Minutes or Less" opens today in the Triangle.
Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari in "30 Miuntes or Less" now playing in the Triangle.

Opening today at just about every muliplex in Raleigh and the Triangle area:

“30 Minutes or Less” (Dir. Ruben Fleischer, 2011)

"30 Minutes or Less" opens today in the Triangle.
Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari in "30 Miuntes or Less" now playing in the Triangle.

“2 guys in masks jumped me and strapped a bomb to my chest and now I have less than 9 hours to rob a bank.”

Right there a frantic Jesse Eisenberg sums up the premise of this comedy to his best friend Aziz Ansari as a wise-cracking school teacher who responds just as frantically: “And your first thought was to come to a school filled with young children?!!?”

This is one of many spastic exchanges between Eisenberg and Ansari as they run around through this fast, and very funny farcical heist flick set in Grand Rapids, MI.

Like in his directorial debut “Zombieland,” Fleischer takes a well worn genre and jazzes it up with a winking wit.There’s shades of “Pineapple Express” in the plotting (along with the casting of Danny McBride), along with “Raising Arizona” and even bits of “Bottle Rocket” in the mix, but those elements aren’t what makes “30 Minutes or Less” tick.

It’s the ton of hilarious lines and amusing moments, many of which were the obvious results of improv (especially out of the mouth of Ansari), and the infectious spirit of how these folks play off one another.

McBride and Nick Swardson are the slacker criminals who kidnap pizza delivery boy Eisenberg and outfit him with a bomb, and it’s because they want the money he’ll rob to hire a hitman (Michael Peña) to kill McBride’s father (Fred Ward) for the inheritance money.

Meanwhile Eisenberg is in love with Ansari’s sister (Dilshad Vadsaria), which is a romantic subplot that doesn’t really matter except for some third act leverage, but I didn’t mind because it raced by like the rest of the action onscreen.

I laughed a lot during this movie. It’s definitely one of the funniest movies of the year, up there with “Bridesmaids” and “Horrible Bosses.” In a chaotic car chase scene with Glenn Frey’s “The Heat is On” blaring on the soundtrack, recalling “Beverly Hills Cop,” I had the sense of being in on the joke more so than in those other comedies.

Though the story comes close to falling apart in its last half, it’s a brisk but bountiful laugh fest (be sure to stay through the credits for a bonus scene) with the everyman Eisenberg, an amped-up Ansari, a much more on point than in the Medieval misfire “Your Highness” McBride, and the best big screen work of Swardson I’ve ever seen (though that’s not saying an awful lot judging from his filmography).

“30 Minutes or Less” is getting some attention because of the similarities to a real life happening, but that incident is quickly forgotten once you get with the tone and the timing of this film, and that took less than 30 seconds for me.

By Daniel Johnson

Daniel Johnson is a Raleigh based writer whose work has appeared in the Indpendent, Chapel Hill News, and has been featured many times on the IMDb Hit List. Daniel writes prolifically about the world of pop culture mainly focusing on film.