Ad Fidelity: '30 Minutes or Less'

by Ray Subers
30 Minutes or Less

August 8, 2011

Editor's Note: Ad Fidelity is a new movie review feature that compares the core elements of a movie's marketing campaign with the reality of what's on screen. The purpose is to show whether or not a movie lives up to the promises of its advertising and to shed light on a movie's potential long-term playability.

Sony/Columbia's marketing campaign for 30 Minutes or Less has focused on the outrageous circumstances surrounding the central bank robbery, the director's well-regarded prior credit (Zombieland) and the comedic interactions between the four lead actors. Here's how the movie aligns with those expectations:

Marketing: With a bomb strapped to his chest by some incompetent criminals, a pizza delivery boy (Jesse Eisenberg) recruits his ex-best friend (Aziz Ansari) to assist in a bank robbery.
Reality: 30 Minutes or Less's actual story closely follows the one detailed in previews, with Eisenberg's character stuck with the bomb for the vast majority of the movie's runtime. Some subplots, such as why the criminals need Eisenberg's character to rob a bank, aren't included in the previews, but that's to be expected for the most part. Also, aside from providing an easy kidnapping opportunity and explaining some fancy driving skills, the pizza delivery boy element referenced in the title and fairly often in the previews doesn't play a huge role in the final movie.

The director of Zombieland delivers a similar blend of comedy and action in 30 Minutes or Less.
Reality: 30 Minutes Or Less favors character-focused comedy over action, which for the most part lines up with director Ruben Fleisher's last movie. They are also both fairly short, with 30 Minutes or Less clocking in at 83 minutes and Zombieland wrapping up at 88 minutes. One major difference is that Zombieland ends with a sprawling, memorable battle against a horde of zombies, while 30 Minutes or Less has a comparatively modest climax that may have some viewers asking "is that it?"

At its core, the movie is a buddy comedy with two pairs of friends: Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari on one side and Danny McBride and Nick Swardson on the other.
Reality: Aside from some less important side characters (including a scene-stealing turn from Michael Pena), 30 Minutes or Less does stick closely to its buddy comedy roots, and splits time pretty evenly between the two pairs. None of the four leads are stretching too much here, with Eisenberg and McBride in particular hewing quite close to past characters, and most of the humor comes from watching these established types playing off each other.

Box Office Implications:
While the final product does align fairly well with its marketing, 30 Minutes or Less doesn't offer up enough additional laughs and thrills to inspire the same kind of word-of-mouth that greeted Zombieland two years ago.

30 Minutes or Less
was screened at Pacific Theaters, The Grove in West Hollywood on Thursday, Aug. 4 in front of a very crowded theater. The audience laughed at most of the jokes, but the majority bolted as soon as the credits began and missed a lengthy post-credits sequence.

Discuss '30 Minutes or Less' on Facebook, Twitter, and in Box Office Mojo's forums.

Marketing Links:
Red-Band Trailer
Trailer #2
Trailer #1

More Ad Fidelity:
'The Change-Up'
'Rise of the Planet of the Apes'

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