We love movies about men who cannot slip the bounds of adolescence and join the ranks of adulthood. But Steve Rose of The Guardian has had enough. “This perpetual state of immaturity has spread like a fungus across the movie landscape,” he wrote in 2012. He definitely has a point, but the glut still didn’t deter me from liking Ruben Fleischer’s 30 Thirty Minutes or Less.
Nick (Eisenberg) is a pizza delivery guy who plays the manchild left lingering on the edge of childhood. He smokes pot, drinks beer and longs for the girl from high school who slipped through his fingers. Left stunted by Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria), he’s obviously intelligent but cannot exorcise the ghost of his pain. So he stews, and becoming a contributing member of society is not on the menu.
Of course, he has a friend (Aziz Ansari) who has long teetered on the same edge but has begun the process of joining the real world as a teacher. "I'm sorry, I have a career. And I don't have time to squeeze action movies into my schedule,” Chet flexes his tenuous real world muscles.
Yes, the formula is pretty much the same. But why does Jack Black in The School of Rock, Paul Rudd in The 40 Year Old Virgin and Vince Vaughn in Old School appeal so much to us.
Women are designated a woman when they reach the age of 18, but men only become a man based on a wide swath of criteria society imposes. So that leaves us resenting the mantle we are forced to carry. So it becomes obvious why even the responsible among us revel in these Hollywood holdouts.
We also enter into a domestic partnership that defies the millions of years of evolution that situated us at the top of the food chain. The girl always in question thus represents an over fictionalized solution. We are then rallied in the darkened theater when the daily tribulations become too much.
A Different Take for Dissenters
Still, Steve Rose is definitely in the ballpark when he says enough is enough. On the other hand, 30 Minutes or Less could actually be palatable to the likes of the Guardian writer. The digression is overemphasized so much that parody does more than peak through.
Fleischer knows the territory well. Zombieland gave us a welcome respite in another tired genre that also litters the landscape.
Either way, the director delivers over the top mostly in the form of Dwayne and Travis. Boisterous, with big empty dreams, their introduction among a little explosive gun play extends beyond the usual profile. The same goes with the exaggerated deadpan that Danny McBride dishes perfectly. “I taught myself how to do this shit. Went online, and looked all this up,” he overcompensates.
Over the Top Adolescence
Nonetheless, the duo soon diverges dramatically from the harmless self-flagellation we’ve come to expect. They hire a hitman to kill Dwayne’s father and cash in on his 10 million dollar lottery winnings. Of course, the way the fledglings wield incompetence and laziness ups the usual ante even further.
Specifically, the hitman fee is $100,000. So they put on gorilla masks, kidnap Nick and strap a bomb to him. The pizza man then has 10 hours to rob a bank and return the proceeds.
They leave the details completely up to Nick. “It’s not my problem dude. It's yours. Get creative. Maybe, use that scary bomb strapped to your chest. Maybe do it the old fashion way.. get a gun, a band of outlaws.. Doesn't matter to me. Its not a rocket science,” Dwayne washes his hands of the mess.
What could do wrong?
But since this is still stunted adolescence on display, is the bomb real? Are they really going to kill their father? Do Nick and Chet actually rob a bank?
There’s a far more important question, though. Does the 2011 film manage to stand out among the glut that the grownups above lament.
In a word, yes.