Seth Rogen has had quite a year. This is the fourth film he has
co-written (following Knocked Up, Superbad and Drillbit
Taylor) which is hitting the multiplexes in just over a year - three of
which he also acted in.
Pineapple Express allows him to re-team with his old friend James Franco
- they had played best friends in the acclaimed-but-short-lived TV series
Freaks and Geeks. Franco, who has mostly taken advantage of his
pretty-boy looks as an actor (The Spider-Man movies, Tristan and
Isolde, Flyboys, Annapolis) does a nicely shaggy turn here,
growing his hair and never shaving or bathing to create an indelible
character which steals most scenes from his co-star.
Rogen plays Dale, a pothead who has a day job as a process server. He
spends his days dressing up to drop subpoenas on unsuspecting people,
dropping by the local high school to see his way-too-hot-for-him younger
girlfriend (Amber Heard) and smoking lots and lots of weed.
pot dealer is Saul (Franco), a charmingly good-hearted if slightly slow
ne'er-do-well who hangs around his grungy apartment watching reruns of
227, playing video games and sampling his merchandise.
When Dale is serving a possible drug dealer, he witnesses the man (Gary Cole)
and a female cop (Rosie Perez) shooting a man. When a doobie he drops
at the scene points to his identity (in a way that frankly strains against
disbelief), he shows up at Saul's apartment. Not sure what exactly to
do, he goes on the run with Saul, avoiding drug dealers, mobsters and the
not sure the world was really waiting for the first stoner action movie, but
here it is.
The film is actually pretty
good until an absurdly, cartoonishly violent climax capsizes the whole
enterprise. No one was going to say Pineapple Express was
realistic in any way before, but it made a certain amount of sense in its
stoner moves. However, a long killing spree in a farmhouse - including
guns, planks of wood, automatic weapons, shattered glass, bombs, knifes,
explosions, even ninjas and a runaway Daiwoo - destroys any hope of the
audience buying anything that has gone on.
It's a shame, because
the movie was the best stoner comedy I can remember before that point -
though that is not exactly a great honor considering some of the previous
stoner comedies made, including Up In Smoke, Meet
the Deedles, Grandma's Boy, Half-Baked and Smiley Face.
Only Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle is in the same ballpark. Then
everything just explodes.
I know that Rogen and his
mentor, producer Judd Apatow, are trying to make a tribute to (and update of)
80s buddy films. However the violence usually made some sense to the
storyline in those - the main characters were cops or evading them.
These are two guys who have nothing else on their mind than finding the best
weed. Only through a series of rather unlikely coincidences do they
get involved in all the shooting, crashes, stabbing and fighting.
The mayhem is all amped up
for the 21st century.
They can't seem to come to
terms with the bad guys. In particular the head honcho, played by Gary
Cole, fluctuates between ruthless crime boss and goofy stoner. The hit
men are hen-pecked and overly sensitive. Only the lady cop is a
consistently scary character.
Yet, it is hard to
completely sympathize with our heroes either. They are kind of dumb.
They are constantly taking smoke breaks, even when on the run for their
lives. Also, a scene where they
sell pot to some junior high school students is played for laughs. You
may be rooting for them to get away, but often that feeling is begrudging,
because their odd actions are making everything more difficult and
convoluted than it really had to be.
In fact, you consistently
get the feeling during the film that everyone involved in the film was
certain that it was much more clever than it actually is.
Still, Pineapple Express
is good for some hearty chuckles, even if it does come off the rails in
Jay S. Jacobs
Copyright ©2008 PopEntertainment.com.
All rights reserved. Posted: August 11, 2008.