Let me say right now, this movie is up against some steep competition. First of all, with The Dark Knight still in theaters and becoming more valuable by the day than many small, island countries, it's hard to consider going to see anything else. Secondly, this movie has some big shoes to fill in the 'weed comedy' department. Cheech and Chong's Up in Smoke, Half Baked, Dazed and Confused, Harold & Kumar go to White Castle, and even Super Troopers (which is more of a cop humor movie, but still plays the weed element excellently) have all made lasting impressions on the big screen, and rank up pretty well on my personal list of favorite movies. Does Pineapple Express have what it takes to stand out as a solid weed movie?
You better believe it.
Now, I don't want you to confuse me with someone who tosses out good compliments at a movie just because it's "expected to be good". Aside from the majority of compliments received, I did receive a few death threats regarding my review for the much anticipated Hancock. So when a movie comes out starring and written by the funny Seth Rogen, produced and partially written by Judd Apatow as well as Evan Goldberg from Knocked Up and Superbad fame, is it expected to be good? Naturally, but as any 2007 Patriots fan can tell you, always remember that success is never automatically guaranteed by what you have on paper.
Thankfully, Pineapple Express makes good use of the potential it has in its writers, director David Gordon Green, and of course the hilarious acting of both Seth Rogen and James Franco. Apparently, when everyone first sat down and started reading off lines in the pre-production stage of this movie, Rogen was originally set to play the drug dealer stoner character now played by Franco. During the reading of lines, it was decided that Franco would make a more hilarious pothead dealer. Now I know what you're all thinking: James Franco? High? It's a bit of a stretch I know, but just roll with it. Franco totally owns this role, and reminds you of every funny, burnout weed addict you've ever had the pleasure of bumping into at a party. In fact, it might be safe to say that for the most part, he outshines Seth Rogen a little bit.
The plot is simple. Seth Rogen is a 25-year-old loser who takes way too much pride in his dead end job as a process server. He enjoys the simple pleasures in life; embarrassing people through his job, his 18-year-old girlfriend who still happens to be in High School, and smoking weed constantly. When he heads over to his dealers place to grab some weed, he gets a treat. Franco provides him with his newest product " Pineapple Express. The weed is so rare and new on the market that Saul (Franco) is literally the only dealer in town who has any at all. After smoking up, Rogen continues on with his job and arrives at the house of Ted Jones (Gary Cole aka Bill Lumbergh), where he accidentally witnesses a murder, panics, and flees the scene. Unfortunately, Dale (Rogen) leaves behind his Pineapple Express at the scene. We learn Ted Jones is actually a drug lord in the midst of a heated underground war, instantly recognizes the Pineapple Express weed at the scene, and does everything in his power to eliminate any witnesses involved with his drug war murder.
In a recent interview, Seth Rogen was asked what the inspiration was for this movie? The idea, Seth said, came from the question 'what movie would I want to watch? Well, that movie has weed in it, machine guns, comedy, and men telling one another that they've hurt each other's feelings'. I'm going to have to agree with all of this. This movie, like all ?best friend comedy movies', is just a romantic comedy, except switch out sexual tension for friendship tension (sounds weird, but think about it for a minute). Things start off great, they have fun together, then tension and drama pulls them apart, ending with glorious bff re-unition in the end. It plays out really well, because Franco and Rogen are awesome on the screen together. Their conversations with each other alone made me crack up several times.
As the movie goes on, it starts to steer more from 'traditional comedy', to dark comedy, very unexpectedly. Pineapple Express juggles around elements from 'best friend comedy', 'weed comedy', and 'dark comedy', all at the same time. It's definitely a little surprising (tons of "Holy sh*t!!" moments that catch you off guard in the humor), but it still works over all, and unlike Hancock, manages to hold water.
To say this movie gets action packed towards the end is an understatement. For those of you who are Sean of the Dead fans, you'll see the connection. It starts off very funny, then towards the end you're thrown off balance, if only for a moment with all the insane action going on you almost forget it's a comedy. Thankfully, Pineapple Express doesn't slip too badly, and more importantly, manages to stay funny.
The Bottom Line: The mix between light hearted weed comedy and intense action dark comedy is a little offsetting at first, but the movie stays true. What's more important " I laughed my ass off. Well timed and executed physical comedy? check. Funny dialogue interactions? check. Classic bumbling moments you'd expect from a weed comedy? check plus. There's one weed moment I wish they had expanded on a little more but it still made me laugh The interaction between Rogen and Franco as one tries to get buzzed into the apartment building by the other. It reminded me of an old school weed comedy gem; Cheech and Chong's 'Daves not Here!' bit. That's how you capture stoner humor; showing real life moments of idiocy we've all experienced. Nice.
Grade: Awesome moments with completely stoned Franco and Rogen, as well as the hilarious Danny McBride from The Foot Fist Way, makes for a movie I can pretty much promise you'll enjoy. I can certainly say I wouldn't mind going to see it a second time in theaters. The fight scenes between characters are great, and the comedy is well written/acted. Flaws? The final scene is a little silly and a random note to end on (you'll understand if you see it), they could have made the transition to face-punching action a little smoother and less-so, Danny McBride was so funny towards the end I wished he had been given more screen time, and am I the only one who thought the makers of the movie assumed they'd bank with a totally random cameo from Bobby Lee that fell flat? I know that last reason doesn't sound like much, but I just get the feeling that they expected big laughs during certain scenes with Lee in them, when the audience just couldn't care less. Overall? This is a great movie, go see it and laugh. B
Next up? The Rocker, and Tropic Thunder! Send questions, comments, love, and hate to CHMovieReview@gmail.com See you next time.