Pineapple Express (2008)
Pineapple Express (2008)

Genre: Action Comedy Running Time: 1 hr. 51 min.

Release Date: August 6th, 2008 MPAA Rating: R

Director: David Gordon Green Actors: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, Kevin Corrigan, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Nora Dunn, Amber Heard, Joe Lo Truglio, Bill Hader, James Remar, Ken Jeong

 


 

A

n unpredictable – or unwelcome – amount of violence permeates the heavily intoxicated cast of Judd Apatow’s latest production, “Pineapple Express.” The jokes are consistently humorous on an immature level, as anticipated by the cast, while surprising action sequences regularly surface, but the quality of the content rises and falls like the ever present waft of marijuana smoke. At certain times, the realism is put on hold for utter nonsense; at others, the bloody drug wars become alarmingly authentic, detailing a side of cannabis use that simply doesn’t fit with the carefree misadventures and attitudes of the protagonists. This perpetually changing style of comedy makes remembering the high points of the film rather cloudy.

Process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) leads a life of ease, constantly serving subpoenas and smoking weed. Save for the anxieties of having a girlfriend in high school, his life somewhat mirrors that of drug dealer Saul (James Franco), who works from home and consistently indulges in his own supply. When Dale witnesses a murder – and leaves a crucial piece of evidence at the crime scene, linking him with Saul – the pair attempt to elude the knowing killers and end up on a wild adventure full of car chases, gunfights, gang wars, crooked cops, and the rarest marijuana in the world.

As the film progresses, the comedy steadily reaches higher levels of absurdity – as do the levels of action-oriented violence and harrowing seriousness. These clashing elements are somewhat alleviated with slapstick and a goofily undying comrade, but they never reach a satisfying equilibrium. In “Hot Fuzz,” director Edgar Wright chose to place his comedic characters in a harsh reality, creating a stable vision of dark humor. Here, “Pineapple Express” opts to weave in and out of believability with characters that also defy the realms of realism, resulting in a movie that starts in situational silliness, shifts into crime drama, and ends in an exaggerated action extravaganza. Gunshot wounds, coffee-pot face-scarring, and beating up a policewoman might provide more laughs than one would think, but such serious topics run contrary to the buoyant humor found earlier in the picture.

Seth Rogen plays his standard role again (or, what moviegoers can presume to just be Rogen in real life), which certainly doesn’t hurt the tone. But his assuming of the straight-man part allows others to steal the spotlight. James Franco delivers a truly riotous performance as the wacky drug dealer, relishing in the crazy antics and bizarre conversations intrinsic to his character’s constant state of intoxication. And Danny McBride also provides numerous moments of verbal and physical ingenuity. But the vast majority of other supporting characters feel largely wasted – especially funnyman Craig Robinson, whose contributions to the jocosity are unusually slim. Though Rogen and crew have nailed the fatuous, pro-weed humor in this latest outing, absurd gags and violent slapstick on the side only go so far before becoming exhaustive. The highlights of “Pineapple Express” arise not from such “stoner” comedy, but instead from the snippets of hilarious truths reflected in the troubled relationships imbedded in the buddy flick formulas.

– The Massie Twins

  • 5/10