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Thursday, Aug. 18, 2011 12:28 pm

30 Minutes goes nowhere fast

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Jesse Eisenberg stars as Nick and Aziz Ansari stars as Chet in Columbia Pictures' 30 Minutes or Less.

If there’s one thing Jesse Eisenberg needs to do right now, it’s fire his agent. The actor’s followup to widely praised The Social Network, ends up being a comedy with few laughs sporting a plot that sputters like an engine in need of a tuneup. 30 Minutes or Less probably looked like a good idea on paper, because it sports a premise with seemingly ripe comic possibilities. But most of them go unrealized.

Eisenberg is Nick, a slacker who delivers pizzas and pines over his roommate’s twin sister Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria). One evening, he makes one run too many and is kidnapped by Dwayne and Travis (Danny McBride and Nick Swardson), two wastes of space who need $10,000 to hire a hit man. Seems they want to off Dwayne’s father so he can inherit what remains of his lottery winnings. They come up with a unique way to get the money. They strap an explosive vest to Nick and tell him he has 10 hours to rob a bank and get their cash or ker-blooey! Mayhem ensues from there.

There’s a good idea here and in the hands of perhaps Adam Sandler, Jim Carrey or Jerry Lewis in his prime, this could have been played for outrageous laughs. Unfortunately, director Ruben Fleischer opts for a more realistic take on the situation, which is a fatal mistake. The laughs are few and far between as Eisenberg is not a comedic actor, while McBride’s typical boorish character wears out its welcome almost from the start. While Swardson and Aziz Ansari as Nick’s roommate have moments, by the time the film reaches its violent climax – a la Pineapple Express – you’ll be wishing you had spent your precious time somewhere else.

Contact Chuck Koplinski at ckoplinski@usd116.org.