Like a bomb indestructibly attached to an anxious pizza delivery boy’s chest, “30 Minutes or Less” hasn’t been able to shake MTV News off itself.
From the early news updates (Jesse Eisenberg as that unfortunate pie-slinger, “Zombieland” helmer Ruben Fleischer in the director’s chair) to the exclusive first look at the Michigan set to an MTV Sneak Peek Week public screening of the action-comedy and beyond, we’ve been all over this movie. And now that it’s finally hit theaters, we’re not letting go quite yet. So slip on our “30 Minutes” cheat sheet for everything you need to know before heading to the multiplex this weekend.
Tick, Tock, Tick, Tock
The project began to come together in earnest in the spring of last year, when Fleischer signed on, followed by Aziz Ansari, Eisenberg (a “Zombieland” vet), Danny McBride and Nick Swardson. In the film, McBride and Swardson play lowlife slackers who hatch a devious, deranged plan: hook Eisenberg’s delivery dude up like a suicide bomber and force him to rob a bank before the explosives go kablooey. Eisenberg, in turn, recruits his best friend, played by Ansari, to help out with the unfortunate activities.
“They’re kind of simple dudes,” Swardson later explained to us. “They’re not very learned. But they’re not like robots. At the core, they are actually very nice people. They believe in friendship and things like that.”
“They just want to be loved,” added McBride, “whether it takes a bomb or a bank robbery to get there.”
Filming kicked off that summer in Grand Rapids, Michigan. MTV News was invited to check out the action in August, when the production settled into a dusty junkyard to shoot McBride and Swardson blowing up watermelons and kidnapping Eisenberg. Fun! But we had to keep the whole thing under wraps for months, until well after the F-bomb-laden, red-band trailer hit the Web this past spring.
Light ’Em Up!
On set, all it seemed anyone could talk about was how bad a driver Eisenberg was . The future Oscar nominee didn’t seem to care. “I live in New York City and ride a bicycle, so I never drive ever, so I’ve been given the opportunity and a cool car,” he told MTV News. “Every time I drive, I get yelled at by the crew, but the stunt drivers always wink at me and say, ’Nah, that was good, man. Keep doing it.’ I’ve been subtly and subversively encouraged to be very dangerous in the car.”
In his defense, there is something dangerous and subversive about the whole movie, as further clips would make clear. In one exclusive MTV News debuted, Eisenberg, newly sporting a bomb on his chest, heads straight to the elementary school where Ansari teaches, because hey, where else would a bomb-carrying pizza boy go other than a school filled with young children?
“Jesse, to his credit, is a great improviser,” Fleischer told us. “Both in ’Zombieland’ and in this movie, he is responsible for so many funny lines, and he can kind of roll. I don’t think that’s his most comfortable gear, but when it’s pushed up, he can give back as good as anybody.”
Added Ansari, “What was really fun about the movie, and Ruben did such a good job putting the cast together, we all kind of have different energies that play off well with one another.”
Almost Out of Time
Fans got an early look at those energies days before the MTV Movie Awards, when we staged a sneak-peek screening of the film. It was at the post-screening Q&A that we got to the bottom of the rumor that Taylor Lautner had shot a cameo in the film.
“He’s in it!” Ansari joked, before admitting the truth. “I read that somewhere. I was like, ’I didn’t know about that.’ … Let’s start that rumor. People like him, right? Just say he’s in the movie. ’That Lautner cameo is dope, man! You gotta see that movie with Taylor Lautner!’ ”
There are far more reasons than a “Twilight” star, though, to merit checking out the film in all its ridiculousness. Just peep some footage from the set, when McBride and Swardson blow those watermelons to smithereens. Those guys are, in the best buddy-comedy tradition, total freaking idiots. Their real-life counterparts kind of are too.
“Just point to the bank,” Swardson said when we asked what it’d take for him to rob a bank.
“Give me a good mask and a loaded weapon, I’m on,” McBride added.
Check out everything we’ve got on “30 Seconds or Less.”
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