For a buddy comedy movie about a pizza guy, "30 Minutes or Less," is dredging up a lot of real world issues.
Starring Jesse Eisenberg as a deliveryman who has a bomb strapped to his chest and is forced to rob a bank by henchmen played by Danny McBride and Nick Swardson, the film has light shades of the real-life story of Brian Wells, a Pennsylvania pizza man who was thrust in the exact same scenario -- and died when the bomb detonated. Whether or not he was in on the ultimately tragic plot was a fact argued in court, but nonetheless, the humorous take on the situation has not sat well with his mourning family members.
In defending his film, director Ruben Fleischer sat down with Moviefone and insisted that his movie was not offensive -- or even that directly related -- to its parallel reality.
"Well first of all, anyone who hasn't seen the movie can't judge," Fleischer said. "Because they haven't seen the movie, and it doesn't really relate to that story other than the fact that there's a bomb strapped to somebody's chest. They're not really related in any way, so I think a lot of people are prejudging it without information."
He continued by saying that he never felt that he was veering on inappropriate, using humor as his justification.
"It's a comedy and it's not that dark, there's not much darkness," he protested. "If you want to talk about what the movie is I'd be more than happy to, but there's not really a connection to the movie and the case you're referring to. The movie is a broad commercial comedy that's really funny and that's the movie we made."
Clearly, intentions or not, Fleischer was aware of the controversy; on the other hand, star Jesse Eisenberg hadn't learned of the Wells tragedy before shooting the picture.
"The truth is, our movie is so different," Eisenberg told the new issue of GQ. "Yeah. I didn't know there was a germ of a story attached to it. Um. I don't think anybody did, except the writers."
Controversy aside, the film promises a lot of laughs. In addition to stars Jesse Eisenberg and Aziz Ansari, the film offers the second buddy combo of McBride and Swardson, the latter of whom recently spoke about how much he loved filming the pic.
"We were able to go off as much as we can," he told NY Magazine's Vulture Blog. There's the line that made the trailer, Danny says, 'Remember when we worshiped the devil for two weeks?' and I say, 'Those were the best two weeks of my life.' And there's one line where I'm asked, 'What, are you gay for this guy? and I say, 'Well, if loving money is gay, I'm Elton John.' Danny and I just had a field day."
For McBride, the actual concept behind the film is what sold him.
"I got the script sent to me, and I really liked the idea that it is a buddy comedy, but it explores the buddy comedy from both sides of the moral compass," he told Movieline. "There's the good guys and the bad guys, and you see the dynamic between the friendships on both sides. I thought it was interesting. Comedically, I thought it would be interesting for audiences, too."