Review: Pineapple Express
Director: David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls, Snow Angels)
Writers: Evan Goldberg, Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen
Producers: Judd Apatow, Shauna Robertson
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Gary Cole, Amber Heard, Rosie Perez
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 111 min
When you think of director David Gordon Green, you’ll have one of two reactions: 1) who? or 2) arty, drama film. Stoner-comedy is not the genre that springs to mind. But for all intents and purposes, that’s exactly what Pineapple Express is. An easy, three-word review would be: it was funny.
Rogen is Dale Denton. A late twenties, slob of a guy who works his day job as a process server only to make enough money to hang out with his high school aged girlfriend and buy pot from his dealer, Saul (Franco). When Dale accidentally witnesses a murder by a notorious crime boss and a lady cop who are in cahoots, he panics and flees the scene as unintentionally loudly as possible. With the criminals following the clues to Dale’s identity and his whereabouts, Dale goes to the one guy who might be able to keep him safe: stoner Saul. The two hit the road in an attempt to find out what the bad guys know or don’t know and figure a way out of their predicament. Along the way, they find that they have more than just a business partnership. Maybe they’re best friends too.
The highlight here, as can be gathered from the trailer, is most certainly Franco. Straying from his usually safe (and fairly cheesy) fare, he shows us a new level of talent – comedic talent. He steals just about every scene he’s in and the movie is laugh-out-loud just by his mere presence. At times, his face alone is worthy of a chuckle. Meanwhile, Rogen plays Rogen. It works in a “good buddy who’s going nowhere” kind of way. He has some moments, but mostly he’s just there for Franco to play off of.
There’s nothing overly deep or insightful here, just fairly good-natured comedy moments. I would best describe it as Half-Baked for a new generation. It’s got Apatow’s fingerprints all over it, so the Superbad element is here as well. While funny, it’s not layered or quite as smart as something like The Big Lebowski, but the sheer volume of laughs might be of equal number.
Two major complaints: if you’re going to have Gary Cole in your movie, he needs to be given more screen time and some better dialogue. Unlike The Brady Bunch Movie or Office Space, Cole is completely wasted. His character could’ve been played by nearly anyone and the on-screen presence power would’ve been the same. It’s a real shame he wasn’t capitalized upon.
Second, the film heads into the action genre territory and it gets a bit played out and seems to drag on and on. Since these sequences are not particularly funny (aside from the car chase) and not particularly as “action-y” or big budget as a true action movie, they never work well for long periods of time. The final 20 minutes or so may have you checking your wristwatch more than once. It’s very obvious that the guys were having so much fun making the picture, that they just didn’t know when (or want) to say when.
A picture most certainly worth a trip to the theater, but I can’t imagine it having much of a re-watch value. Even Franco’s one-liners might be a bit stale a second trip through. Prepare to laugh quite a bit though; especially if you’ve been, or known, a stoner. The persona of said stoner might be a bit over-stated, but that’s what makes us laugh. “How could they find us?” “Heat seeking missiles, Bloodhounds, barracudas, foxes, satellite telemetry…” just the sort of deep thinking, metaphysical musings that arouse a stoner’s senses; and also your funny bone.
Click “play” to see the trailer: