PITTSBURGH — When the comedy “30 Minutes or Less” opens in theaters Friday, one small group of people will be sure to avoid it.
That would be the family members of Brian Wells, the 46-year-old pizza delivery driver who was killed when a metal bomb collar he was forced to wear while robbing a bank exploded in Pennsylvania eight years ago.
The movie’s handlers acknowledge the screenwriters were “vaguely” aware of Wells but say the movie — in which two ne’er-do-wells force a pizza driver to rob a bank while wearing a time bomb vest — isn’t based on the infamous Pennsylvania case, and especially Wells’ grisly death.
Still, Wells’ sister, Jean Heid, said the movie isn’t funny — whether or not it was inspired by her brother’s fate.
“It’s hard for me to grasp how other human beings can take delight and pride in making such a movie and consider it a comedy,” Heid said in an e-mail. “I don’t think it’s funny to laugh at the innocent who are victimized by criminals, who care nothing for human life.”
Based on its madcap theatrical trailer, it appears the film doesn’t echo the Wells case beyond the pizza-bomber plot device.
“Neither the filmmakers nor the stars of ‘30 Minutes or Less’ were aware of this crime prior to their involvement in the film,” said Steve Elzer, a spokesman for the film’s distributor, Columbia TriStar. “The writers were vaguely familiar with what had occurred and wrote an original screenplay that does not mirror the real-life tragedy.”
Jerry Clark, the FBI agent who led the Wells investigation, saw the movie’s trailer and said, “Having been on the scene the day that it happened and watching the device detonate, linking that with a comedy, that’s sort of difficult for me to comprehend.”