>> Pineapple Express (7/10)

Pineapple Express

Summer, 2008.  Year of the Danny McBride.  Wait.  Dude?  Was this how my Tropic Thunder review started?  Aw, man, my bad.  I am soooooo high right now!

**cough, cough, snort**

Wait.  No, I’m not.  I’ve never touched the stuff.  So what does Pineapple Express mean to me, as a non-smoker who generally dislikes pot comedies but generally likes the Apatow Gang (including stars Seth Rogen and James Franco)?  Please keep in mind that I watched this film in Austin, Texas, which is almost like traveling to Hershey, PA to watch Charlie and the Chocolate Factory or getting to watch 2001 while on a ride into orbit in a space shuttle.  Austin loves the leaf.

And so it was that I found myself in a throng of teenagers at a sold-out midnight show (on two screens!) in one of the most remote, isolated theatres in town.  I began to wonder if this film was intended for me, Mister Straight-Laced Thirtysumthin.  I asked myself if I would be entertained by a film that I suspected might just be Cheech and Chong for 2008.  I wondered if I was the oldest person there.  I pondered how many of these kids lit up on the way to the theatre to, y’know, set the mood.

Then, Pineapple Express started, and all my questions vanished.  This was a film created to make people laugh, not just make high people laugh.  Strangely enough, one could actually view Pineapple Express as an anti-drug film.  Really bad stuff happens to Dale Denton (Rogen) and Saul Silver (Franco), and it all stems from marijuana.

Dale is a process server who witnesses a murder during a routine job.  The murderer turns out to be Ted Jones (Gary Cole), a drug lord at war with “The Asians”, and the only source for Dale’s drug dealer’s stash of superweed called Pineapple Express.  That drug dealer is Saul, and he’s implicated in the mess when Dale drops a roach at the murder scene with the rare herb still smoldering.  This leads the two on the run and into danger in the form of crooked police, an angry father, and Saul’s supplier, Red, played by Danny McBride.

Danny McBride is awesome in this movie.  He’s generated plenty of buzz this year, thanks to Foot Fist Way, but this is the one that will put him on the map.  Craig Robinson also made me laugh quite a bit as one of Ted Jones’ assassins on the trail of Dale and Saul.  Seth Rogan’s part is no real stretch for him, but he’s likeable, as usual, and James Franco convincingly plays someone who is completely baked.  They also have great chemistry, and the charm of their camaraderie allows the movie to get away with being rougher around the edges than it should be.

Specifically, there are a lot of moments that feel cheap and perfunctory.  Dale has a girlfriend subplot that ends, then picks back up only to end again.  Most of the parts involving Gary Cole and Rosie Perez (as the cop in his pocket) feel unscripted in a bad way, like the actors were just told to show up on set and they’d come up with something for them to do when the cameras rolled.  The action sequences are inconsistent as well, relying too often on a tired (but seemingly intentional) 1980’s-style shoot ’em up vibe.

Maybe a toke or two and I would’ve given this movie a ten?  The world may never know.  Pineapple Express plays fast and loose, the Apatow Gang’s most sloppy comedy by far, but it never fails to entertain, even at its sloppiest.

7 on a 1 to 10 scale

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1 Comment

  1. my problem with the movie is two-fold. first, this is the first apatow product where i didn’t really have a laugh-out-loud moment. there were times that made me chuckle or smile, but nothing close to the first time i saw “Virgin” or “Knocked Up” or “Superbad.” second, i didn’t really like the way it was directed. at times it seemed like they had a first time director that wanted to try every transition and gimmick that they could think of.

    maybe watching “Tropic THunder” before this didn’t help, as i think that “Tropic” mixes its comedy and action very well. but at the same time i can’t help but compare the two.


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