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On DVD: Pineapple Express

By Willie Krischke — August 22, 2008

“Pineapple Express” is buddy action comedy meets stoner flick, like the lovechild of “Dazed and Confused” and “Rush Hour.”   (I suppose that makes it the younger, more violent brother of the “Harold and Kumar” movies.)     It stars Seth Rogen and James Franco, part of the old “Freaks and Geeks” crew.   So it’s a lot like “Knocked Up” and “Superbad,”  from last summer.  I used to call these movies Judd Apatow flicks, after their producer, but I’m seeing that name on everything these days, from “Step Brothers” to “The TV Set;”  movies that have virtually nothing in common.   So I’m going to start calling them Seth Rogen movies.

“Pineapple Express” is not as funny as those movies, and I’m not sure why.  Frankly, I was a little disappointed with it (this may have more to do with watching “Step Brothers” last week, which, as I pointed out, is a lame copy of a Seth Rogen movie.)  “Knocked Up” and “Superbad”  felt enthusiastically chaotic and irreverent; there was a sense that they were joyously getting away with something.   Maybe it’s the whole pot-smoker/slacker/sexually frustrated good guy; while last summer’s movies assumed the character, “Pineapple Express” celebrates it, nudging us and saying “Look, he smokes pot and has a crappy job and his girlfriend is in high school.  Isn’t that funny?”   I don’t much like to be nudged.

Seth Rogen is a process server, (which means he delivers subpoenas and divorce papers, etc.) and is very good at his job – this is one of the cleverest jokes in the movie, and one of the few that isn’t a riff on getting high and doing stupid stuff.  While in the process of serving a client, he inadvertently witnesses a murder, clumsily makes it clear that he’s witnessed the murder, and drops all the evidence the murderer needs to track him down and kill him, in the form of a joint.  James Franco is his dealer, also implicated by the joint, so the two go on the run, so to speak, while the druglord tries to hunt them down and kill them.  In the process, they manage to start a drug war, by way of mistaken identity.    The final showdown is in an underground pot farm, and involves an awful lot of Asians rappelling from the ceiling with machine guns.  Funny how Asians seem to always find the roof, but never the stairs.

There are, as I mentioned, the standard riffs on getting high and acting stupid.  Seth Rogen and James Franco play them with energy and chemistry, and I get the feeling that these guys aren’t pretending about their affection for weed.   These will either make you laugh, or won’t.   But the funniest bits in the movie are the fight sequences – remember, this is “Rush Hour” but without Jackie Chan, or anyone else who remotely knows how to deliver a knockout punch.   They mostly consist of bumbling around and yelling, as if the bad guy will stay down if you hit him loud enough.

Some folks are bound to get offended by the prevalence of marijuana in this movie.  The movie itself, takes an interesting stance, if you can call it that.   Yes, it sings the praises of pot at times, but also notes, at another point, that while high, our heroes can barely function.   It takes for granted that normal people both do and deal drugs, but also that there are nasty, ruthless drug lords behind the whole thing.   Only one scene really bothered me: the boys, in need of some quick cash, sell a bag to some kids who look about middle school age.   And they do it without a second thought.  Really, guys?   Kids too young to smoke tobacco or drink alcohol?   That’s hardly an argument for responsible use and legalization of the wacky tobacky.

Recommended

  • to potheads
  • to “Harold & Kumar” fans
  • to Cheech & Chong fans
  • to anyone who just saw “Step Brothers.”   This is the same, but better.

Not Recommended

  • if you’d have a hard time rooting for a hero who doesn’t say no to drugs.
  • to those looking for the wit, heart, and fun of “Knocked Up” and “Superbad.”
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2 Responses

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  1. Hi Willy,
    I’m still catching up but I LOVE this site. I’m sending it out to all my movie buff friends and I’m going to link it on my blogger page 🙂

  2. first half of Pineapple Express was about half as good as Knocked Up; the second half was almost as bad as Freddy God Fingered

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