Alright, so we know Aziz Ansari isn’t the only star of 30 Minutes or Less, but, let’s face it, he kind of steals the show–just like he does on Parks and Recreation. Cast as Chet, the best friend of Nick (Jesse Eisenberg, who has been making some interesting and divergent roles in his post-The Social Network years), Ansari is given numerous opportunities to outshine everyone else in the movie.
Even though Nick and Chet have been friends since their formative teenage years, the two have obviously drifted in terms of life goals and career paths. Nick delivers pizza for Vito’s Pizza (an establishment with the competitive edge of being able to deliver its product in, you guessed it, thirty minutes or less), while Chet has recently become a full-time substitute teacher. When Nick confesses to Chet that he slept with his twin sister, Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria), the tension that has been boiling between them erupts into a slew of hurtful admissions (Chet was indirectly responsible for Nick’s parents’ divorce and slept with Nick’s ex-girlfriend) that concludes with a farcical physical fight and the vow that they are no longer friends.
This declaration of being enemies recedes when another pair of friends, Dwayne (Danny McBride) and Travis (Nick Swardson), make their own plans to become millionaires by getting someone to steal one hundred grand for them so they can pay a hit man named Chango (Michael Peña, who you probably recognize from Crash and who parodies the Hispanic stereotype to perfection) to kill Dwayne’s father, who happened to win the lottery a few years back. When Dwayne and Travis see the ad for Vito’s Pizza on TV, it prompts Dwayne to comment, “Sometimes fate pulls out its big old cock out and slaps you right in the face.”
Writer Michael Diliberti packs the script full of many other such delightfully offensive lines, and the more than occasional slur (e.g. when Dwayne calls Chet’s sister, Kate, “slumdog”). Diliberti’s whimsically comic writing style, paired with the look and feel of Ruben Fleischer’s (who also directed Jesse Eisenberg in Zombieland) pastiche almost makes the town of Grand Rapids, Iowa look livable.
But then, once they get their hands on the money, it is difficult for Nick and Chet to bear parting with it. The entire plot of the film is, in fact, is a sign of the times: People simply wanting to be rich without working, which, yes, has probably always been an epidemic, but is now intensified by the extreme lack of desirable professions. Another sign of the times, evidently, is mocking Third Eye Blind by confusing them with another band (in this case Matchbox 20), a running joke that also occurs in Friends With Benefits (in which they are mixed up with Semisonic). Maybe we just like to condemn any relic of the 90s because it pains us to remember how much easier it was to live in that decade.