30 Minutes or Less: Stoned cold crazy

30 Minutes Or Less
A; Comedy
Dir: Ruben Fleischer
Cast: Jesse Eisenberg, Aziz Ansari, Danny McBride, Nick Swardson, Dilshad Vadsaria
Rating: * * 1/2 (out of 5)

Our censor board took the title a little too literally, it seems, given the manner in which they've gone scissor-happy on 30 Minutes Or Less. There are at least three key sequences (my assumption is that the CBFC was kind enough not to edit entire scenes out) that suffer from so much jerky editing that the contents of the scene can only be understood by a combination of ear-straining and guesswork.

Not only is the censorship redundant in a movie already rated 'A', but it also defies logic. This is a stoner-comedy-turned-heist movie, much in the vein of 2008's Pineapple Express (that also starred McBride), which means it liberally drops f-bombs all over the place. Mercifully, those have been retained. However, apart from a scene involving nudity, they've also censored sundry references to human genitalia at will, which makes 30 Minutes Or Less a lot less fun than it should've been.

And fun it is, although the movie is to quality cinema what cheese-burst pizzas are to healthy digestion. Directed by Fleischer, who made the extremely entertaining Zombieland, this is a lightweight movie that doesn't aspire to be much, which is its best as well as worst quality.

Eisenberg, star of last year's The Social Network, brings his trademark deadpan pseudo-adolescent charm here as Nick, a pizza delivery boy who falls a victim two bumbling first-time criminals.

The Laurel-and-Hardy pair comprises spoiled man-child Dwayne (McBride) and his loyal buddy Travis (Swardson). Travis is unhappy with his father, an ex-Marine lottery winner, and wants him out of the way so he can inherit his fortune. All that stands in his way is a $100,000 fee that he needs to hire an assassin for the job.

As it turns out, they find a perfect stooge in Nick, who is then strapped with a bomb around his torso and instructed to rob a bank within 24 hours or else. Nick must then use the help of his roommate Chet (Ansari) to do the needful.

Two things prevent 30 Minutes Or Less from being a really memorable stoner comedy: inconsistent writing and uneven performances. The writing is hilarious on certain occasions; at other times it's just forced and lame. There is some basic characterisation that is also fairly cliched (people who listen to thrash metal are usually dumb, according to Hollywood) and a few exchanges between Dwayne and Travis seem slightly contrived.

Meanwhile, while Eisenberg, McBride and Swardson turn in adequate performances, Ansari strikes a few jarring notes with his sometimes-forced style of acting. At his best, he's a hoot; at his worst, it's like watching an Indian man trying to pull off a Chris Tucker impression.

One is better off waiting for this movie to come out on DVD. At the very least, you'll see an uncut version, if not a better one.

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