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Originally published Thursday, August 11, 2011 at 12:04 AM

Movie review

'30 Minutes or Less' drags on too long

Review of "30 Minutes or Less," a dismal action comedy by director Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland"). Jesse Eisenberg stars, giving a performance awfully similar to the one he delivered in "The Social Network."

Seattle Times movie critic

Movie review 1 stars

'30 Minutes or Less,' with Jesse Eisenberg, Danny McBride, Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Michael Peña, Fred Ward. Directed by Ruben Fleischer, from a screenplay by Michael Diliberti and Matthew Sullivan. 83 minutes. Rated R for crude and sexual content, pervasive language, nudity and some violence. Several theaters.

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If only it were 30 minutes or less. But "30 Minutes or Less," a grimly unfunny action comedy about a group of idiots and a bomb, drags on for nearly three times that. Directed by Ruben Fleischer ("Zombieland"), it's the story of Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), an unfortunate pizza-delivery guy who gets kidnapped by a couple of faux criminals (Danny McBride, Nick Swardson) who strap a bomb to him and force him to rob a bank. The two dudes, you see, are trying to get some money to pay off a hit man, and Nick frantically enlists his ex-best friend (Aziz Ansari) to help him, and ... well, the only way this plot makes sense is if you don't pay much attention to it.

And the only way you'll have much fun at "30 Minutes or Less" is if you just kind of squish it together with "The Social Network" (which is easy, as Eisenberg is giving the exact same performance here, right down to the outfits and the nervous rat-a-tat speech patterns) and wonder why Mark Zuckerberg would need to rob a bank, rather than just call his accountant. Otherwise, all there's left to do in this movie is to note how very scripted the characters are, how difficult it is to write characters who are truly clueless (these ones never seem believable, just that they're carefully intoning lines intended to make them seem stupid), and how the movie doesn't seem to know how to end.

"30 Minutes or Less" is attracting some controversy because of its strong resemblance to a real-life 2003 tragedy, in which a Pennsylvania pizza-delivery man, forced to wear a bomb collar when robbing a bank, died when the bomb detonated. The studio has issued a statement saying that the movie's writers were only "vaguely" aware of the real-life story, and that the filmmakers and stars were not aware of it prior to their involvement in the film. Be that as it may, it makes the movie even less funny — and "30 Minutes or Less" doesn't need any help on that front.

Moira Macdonald: 206-464-2725 or mmacdonald@seattletimes.com

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