Pineapple Express Movie Review
Review by Robert Bell (B)
The title, Pineapple Express, refers to a strain of marijuana that is "so rare, that smoking it is like killing a unicorn." In fact, if smoked, one might be inclined to look up things on the internet, talk about how hard it is to be cool and watch episodes of 227 (yes, that show with Jackee). The film - while nothing particularly special - succeeds in making the usually oblique and inaccessible (to those who aren't under the influence) stoner comedy engaging to a wider (read sober) audience. While it will surely be appreciated more by potheads, the bizarre logic and chaotic happenings are kept relatively grounded in reality by indie director David Gordon Green's candid, matter-of-fact technique.
Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a 26-year-old pothead who serves subpoena's for a living and dates a high-school student (Amber Heard) on the cusp of college where, according to Dale, she will forget about him and get into bands like "Godspeed! You Black Emperor" and "The Shins."
After a routine visit to his weed dealer Saul (James Franco) to pick up a rare strain of marijuana known as Pineapple Express, Dale witnesses a drug Mafioso (Gary Cole) and a crooked cop (Rosie Perez) killing someone and accidentally leaves a roach at the scene of the crime. Paranoid and panicking, Dale returns to Saul to find out if this rare weed can be traced back to them.
The pair quickly learn that their paranoid delusions are very much real when a visit to marijuana middleman Red (Danny R McBride) turns to violence and a pursuit by hired baddies (Kevin Corrigan & Craig Robinson).
Pineapple Express is a shallow, slight film that really makes no effort to be anything other than a moronic comedy. Any notions of artistic integrity are thrown out the window somewhere around the third or fourth fellatio and sodomy joke. Attempting to criticize this point would be silly as the film makes absolutely no effort to say anything profound or life changing; it seeks only to paint an accurate picture of pothead nomenclature and explore astonishing notion of weed-fueled paranoia coming true. In this capacity, the film succeeds with flying colours.
Like all Apatow produced films, the second half drags with unnecessary padding and glib life lessons, but in relation to his other productions Pineapple finds itself leaning closer to the amusing antics of Superbad and 40-Year-Old Virgin than the less comically successful Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Knocked Up. Fans of the existing template will be pleased, but others may find the familiarity and initial charm of it waning.
While over-the-top fight scenes and an absurdist car chase sequence bring a great deal of humour to the film, the real scene stealer is James Franco, whose stupid grins and delayed reactions add the much needed human hilarity that Seth Rogen's typical performance is lacking.
For a shallow, slight and insipid glance at stoner humour, one could do much worse than Pineapple Express. It's sure to incite some laughs and the occasionally absurdist plotline is sure to keep most audience members on their toes and entertained for the majority of the running time. Anyone looking for something with depth and significance will be disappointed and should probably consider avoiding films about potheads running from serial killers.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.