Published on August 12th, 2008 | by Erich Becker0
Review: Pineapple Express
Since the unlikely success of Harold and Kumar the sub-genre of stoner-action-comedy-adventure has really taken off. Of course movies like this are nothing new in Hollywood, but getting the target audience off the couch and away from the substances that make them the target audience for two hours is sometimes harder to manage. All you need is some clever marketing, the guys who wrote Superbad, and the genre’s new “it” boy Seth Rogen to make a successful film. It doesn’t hurt Judd Apatow is along for the ride as a producer and the always excellent, although drastically underused here, Gary Cole makes an appearance.
Pineapple Express, through its thinly laced plot, excels at making you laugh more often than note, however your level of enjoyment figures on how well you “get” the culture of habitual weed smokers and what they might find funny, or if you just like to see stone people stumble around like, well, stoned idiots. Rogen and fellow Apatow-alum James Franco star as Dale and Saul, respectively, a buyer and a dealer on the run from an even bigger deal (Cole’s Ted) after Dale witnesses Ted blowing a guy’s head off.
The movie’s namesake comes from a particular strand of plant that, leads Ted back to a mid-level man, Red (Danny R. McBride), whom he sold it to, and where it went from there. Ted sends a couple of hit men after Dale and Saul and Red flip flops sides more times than a politician up until the movie’s explosive finale.
As always Rogen is excellent here, his oafishness and chubby guy persona brings a certain likeability to him, even in some of the smallest roles. Everyone remembers how he stole the show in The 40 Year old Virgin and seemingly made getting married to Katherine Heigl manageable (in real life I doubt this is possible). Franco, late of the Spider-Man franchise, grows his hair out and puts on the dumbest face possible in the role of Saul a clichéd example of why you shouldn’t do drugs and try to do any thing that requires a quarter of your brain. Most of the film’s best moments come at the expense of his limited intellect.
The cast is rounded out by the aforementioned Cole who is apt to play the bad guy but is underutilized and underdeveloped with the script, written by Rogen and partner Even Goldberg, focusing more on Dale and Saul than anything else. The chemistry between Rogen and Franco is top notch, however, and the third wheel of the scheming McBride completes the ensemble in the same way Christopher Mintz-Plasse McLovin’ augmented Superbad.
The film, however, isn’t able to stand up completely under the weight of its hook, a couple of high guys know too much and have some bad guys after them, the opening segment, featuring the hilarious Bill Hader ties in well to the ending of the film 70 years later, but without the film’s star power draw, there wouldn’t be much to it but smoke billowing out from under the door.