Marijuana-smoking, Grand Rapids slacker pizza delivery driver Nick (Jesse Eisenberg) has trouble completing the "30 Minutes or Less" policy and is reprimanded by his boss Chris (Brett Gelman). Nick's school teacher friend Chet (Aziz Ansari) discovers that Nick slept with his twin sister, Kate (Dilshad Vadsaria), on the night of their high school graduation, causing Nick and Chet to end their friendship. Dwayne Mikowlski (Danny McBride) and Travis Cord (Nick Swardson), are miserable living under the shadow of Dwayne's domineering father, The Major (Fred Ward), who about 10 years prior won over $50 million in the lottery. Dwayne confides in lap-dancer Juicy (Bianca Kajlich) about his contempt for his father and Dwayne's presumed inheritance. At Travis's suggestion, he and Dwayne devise a plot to kidnap a complete stranger and strap a remote-controlled bomb to his chest. They order a pizza and wait for a driver to come to their hideout. When Nick arrives, Dwayne and Travis assault him and knock him unconscious.
When Nick wakes up, he finds a vest rigged with explosives strapped and buckled onto his torso, with both a timer and a cellular phone-activated trigger. Dwayne and Travis tell him his situation: the bomb will detonate unless he robs a bank within 10 hours. They also threaten to detonate the bomb if Nick bothers the police. He goes to Chet's school job and alerts him the situation, to which he reluctantly accepts. En route to the bank, Nick manages to quit his job and then goes to see Kate for the last time. Nick and Chet hold up the bank and obtain money while the bank manager pulls the alarm, forcing Nick and Chet to flee quickly. Dwayne says he and Travis will meet Nick at an abandoned rail yard to make the exchange. Dwayne and Travis go to a restaurant instead as Dwayne calls up Juicy to get her hit-man ally and to head to the rail yard. Juicy and the hit man Chango (Michael Peña) arrive to pick up the money. Nick hands Chango the money and expects Chango to give him the code which will deactivate the bomb. However, Chet appears and strikes Chango with a metal bar while Nick incapacitates Juicy. The two grab the money and escape.
Overly frustrated by the turn of events and when Nick refuses to answer the phone again, Dwayne activates the speed dial number on his phone for the bomb to explode, but Travis alters the numbers. Rethinking their plan, he and Dwayne head to Kate's apartment in their masks and kidnap her. Chango breaks into the Major's house to find information regarding Dwayne's location and finds a hand-drawn map to the scrapyard. While there, the Major attacks him with a pen gun. The Major is then shot by Chango after a struggle. Upon applying some peroxide, Chango uses the information he found in Dwayne's room to head to the scrapyard. Dwayne threatens to kill Kate unless Nick meets up with him at the scrapyard.
At the scrapyard, Dwayne gives Nick the code 69 69 69 to deactivate and unbuckle the bomb with just minutes to spare. Dwayne has them at gunpoint but Nick has Chet fake having a sniper on them by pointing with his laser pointer. After believing him, Dwayne and Travis drop their weapons and leave with the money. However, Nick is knocked out by Chango who now has Dwayne at gunpoint, demanding for the money. Dwayne gives him the money but Chango decides to still kill him and is torched with a flamethrower by Travis. While being burned on the ground, Chango wounds Dwayne and shoots the gas tank on Travis's back, causing it to explode. Nick takes the money and leaves with Kate and Chet. Dwayne chases after Nick and steal the money and when he has Nick at gunpoint his van explodes, seemingly killing him. Nick reveals he reactivated the bomb and put it in Dwayne's van. While Chet looks at the money, it squirts blue dye on his face. In a post-credits scene, Dwayne (who survived the explosion), Travis, the Major recuperating in a wheelchair, and Juicy are seen in an advertisement for their new family business called "Major Tan: Tanning Salon".
In the alternate ending, Nick, Chet and Kate drive off with the money and discuss what they will do with their new-found riches. Meanwhile, just miles behind them, Dwayne is revealed to have survived the explosion that occurred moments earlier. Annoyed with his plan's failure, he goes to his father's mansion to see if Chango successfully killed him. Dwayne finds his dad on the floor suffering from his gunshot wound and tells about his plans for the tanning salon/brothel. His father is excited and tells his son that he is proud of him. The final scene is at the Four Seasons in Atlanta, where Kate is managing the special events program. She joins up with Nick and Chet, who are chilling out by the pool enjoying their new lives. In addition to this, the late Chango has been blamed for the bank robbery, so all is well.Jesse Eisenberg as Nick Davis
Danny McBride as Dwayne "King Dwayne" Mikowlski
Aziz Ansari as Chet Flanning
Nick Swardson as Travis Cord
Dilshad Vadsaria as Kate Flanning, Chet's sister
Michael Peña as Chango, a hit-man that is an associate of Juicy.
Bianca Kajlich as Juicy, a lap dancer that Dwayne befriends.
Fred Ward as Jerry "The Major" Mikowlski, Dwayne's dad.
Brett Gelman as Chris, Nick's boss at a pizza restaurant.
Rebecca Cox as Sandra, a bank employee.
Rick Irwin as Mark the Bank Manager
Torey Adkins as Big Guy, the customer who gets shot in the leg during the robbery.
Filming took place in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from July to September 2010; and a bank robbery scene was filmed at the vacant Ludington State Bank building—most recently a Fifth Third Bank—on James St. in Ludington, Michigan. The film's screenplay was written by Matthew Sullivan and Michael Diliberti, and the film was produced by Ben Stiller, through his production company, Red Hour Films. The film was released on August 12, 2011.
A screening of the film took place at the 2011 San Diego Comic Con with actors Aziz Ansari, Nick Swardson, Michael Peña and director Ruben Fleischer.The Hives – "Tick Tick Boom"
Beastie Boys – "Sure Shot"
Generationals – "I Promise"
Glenn Frey – "The Heat Is On"
Band of Horses – "Laredo"
Kid Cudi – "Is There Any Love?"
M.O.P. – "Ante Up"
Third Eye Blind – "Jumper", referenced multiple times throughout the film.
Ol' Dirty Bastard featuring Kelis – "Got Your Money"
On review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes the film has an approval rating of 44% based on 159 reviews, with an average rating of 5.4/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "It's sporadically funny and it benefits from a talented cast, but 30 Minutes or Less suffers from a disjointed narrative, and too often mistakes crude gags for true lowbrow humor." On Metacritic, which assigns a weighted average rating to reviews gives the film a score of 49 out of 100, based on 37 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
The film grossed $13.3 million in its opening weekend, below studio expectations. The film went on to earn a worldwide total of $40.5 million.
It was released on Blu-ray Disc and DVD on November 29, 2011. It was released on September 16, 2011 in the United Kingdom.
The plot of the film bears a striking resemblance to a real-life bank heist gone wrong. On August 28, 2003, pizza delivery man Brian Douglas Wells entered a bank in Erie, Pennsylvania, with a bomb strapped to his neck. As police approached Wells, the bomb detonated, killing him. Wells had similar motives and was surrounded with people who strongly resemble characters depicted in the motion picture.
Despite the similarities to the case, the cast and filmmakers claimed to have had no prior knowledge of the incident, although the screenwriters have admitted to being "vaguely aware" of it for legal purposes.