IN 30 MINUTES OR LESS, Zombieland director Ruben Fleischer attempts to make a comedy out of the story of two sociopaths who kidnap a pizza boy, strap a bomb to him, and force him to rob a bank (something similar happened in real life, but ended when the bomb guy got his head blown off while he begged the police to help him). It's a dark, intriguing idea, and something I'd want to watch, especially with this cast—which makes it painful to see it drowned in schmucky riffing. Almost immediately, there seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding that telling a funny story is different than telling a story in which every character tells 50 jokes a minute like Shecky Greene.
We open the film with best friends Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari, whose first interaction is one of those "Hey, remember that time when we..." expository conversations, where we're supposed to learn things about the characters and laugh along as decades-old revelations about sister banging and toothbrush farting bubble to the surface. Only it's not that funny because they're just describing things that are supposed to be funny rather than actually doing the funny things. Also, people don't talk like this. Both Eisenberg and Ansari maintain this odd detachment for the entire film, as if their characters are comedic talking heads from a VH-1 wrap-up show, commenting on their own lives rather than actually experiencing them. Not the best thing for a movie about a guy with a bomb strapped to him, which is supposed to be, you know, tense. Also, has anyone else noticed that Ansari's only move seems to be bug-eyed shouting?
On the other side of town, Danny McBride and Nick Swardson play a couple schlubby slackniks who want to spend their whole lives blowing stuff up and not getting jobs, like a pair of meth-lab Lost Boys. Their solution is to get rid of McBride's father and inherit his money, which he conveniently won in the lottery a few years back. They know a stripper who knows a hit man, but they need money to pay him. Light bulb! Let's kidnap a pizza boy (Eisenberg) and make him steal money to pay the hit man to kill the father to inherit the money! Swardson and McBride are charming, but... this story. It makes no sense. It seems to expect believability with no awareness of its own Jack Handey-level of absurdity, where characters with ticking time bombs strapped to their chests stop at Rite Aid to make Jay Leno jokes about hamburger patties. The jokes are occasionally funny, but they're not about anything. What's the point?