Punch lines race with bullets and police cars in 30 Minutes or Less, which makes an admirable effort to justify the "action" portion of the "action-comedy" genre. In a popcorn flick like Pineapple Express, quippy slacker-types stumble into some kind of outlandish criminality. 30 Minutes or Less provides a rationale for its slapstick mayhem.
Danny McBride plays Dwayne, an arrogant dimwit who longs for the death of his hardass father (Fred Ward) so he can inherit his fortune in lottery winnings. When Dwayne discovers he can hire a hit man (Michael Peña) for $100,000, he gets the idea to coerce a stranger into raising the money. Dwayne and his sidekick Travis (Nick Swardson) target Nick (Jesse Eisenberg), an underemployed pizza delivery guy with daredevil driving skills. The scheming duo knock out Nick, strap a bomb vest to his chest and give him 10 hours get the cash by any means necessary.
A desperate Nick seeks help from his testy best friend Chet (Aziz Ansari), so 30 Minutes or Less gets plenty of high-velocity mileage from the idea of action movie fans attempting actual bank heists and car chases. The threat of being blown to smithereens motivates Nick to turn his life around and reinforce his friendship with Chet. In a parallel plot, Travis chafes against Dwayne's bullying behavior.
Eisenberg and Ansari make a great team as two of young Hollywood's fastest talkers. Ansari in particular brings a madcap, caffeinated energy to his role. McBride, however, provides a less nuanced take on the kind of self-important jerk he always plays — perhaps he should try being the abused sidekick for a change. Despite the snappy efforts of Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer, 30 Minutes or Less' script runs low on steam and relies on some familiar comic premises, including "That's what she said" jokes.