Review: Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express one-sheet

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.

Seth Rogen and James FrancoThe 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.

Rosie Perez and Gary ColeSecond, 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:

Links:
IMDb profile
Official Site
Flixster Profile for Pineapple Express





45 comments

  1. with exceptions, I have a general aversion to drug humor. There's something about it that is so… non existant?

  2. Kurt Halfyard

    The first time I saw Franco's character, I was immediately reminded of Brad Pitt's very minor role in True Romance.

    And I just read recently that those two brief scenes inspired Judd Apatow to pitch this concept. So, from the trailer, I'd say mission accomplished.

    This is my most anticipated film for the remainder of the summer.

    "Get some beer….and…some cleaning products!"

  3. After watching James Dean (the film) recently, I am definitely on board for Pineapple Express. James Franco can act.

  4. Definitely Brad Pitt in True Romance, but also Jim Breuer from Half Baked… maybe even more so (although let's be honest, they're basically the same character.

  5. OH! Forgot to give a big shout out to Matt Gamble over at Cinema Fusion for hooking me up with the screener tickets. He has more intelligent stuff to say about Pineapple Express over at CF. Check it out.

  6. Marina Antunes

    I didn't realize there was a James Dean flick with Franco in the lead. Interesting casting though he certainly looks the part.

    I'm happy to see that he's a highlight here. He always seems to be on the verge of something "more" but though he's been good in the movies he's starred in, there always seemed to be more to offer than we were getting to see. I look forward to his next dramatic role. Hopefully it'll give him a chance to really act rather than just look pouty and about to cry.

  7. I heard rumors of a Jeff Buckley movie in the works and I always thought Franco would be perfect for the role.

  8. This is my most anticipated film for the remainder of the summer.

    It shouldn't be. Tropic Thunder is far superior, though PE is still very funny.

  9. Franco as Buckley would be awesome.

  10. Matt, I tried to tell him that. This is a one-time watch funny movie. TThunder looks like it has way more depth and takes chances with its comedy rather than just resorting to stoner humor (which is funny, just nothing overly special).

  11. Kurt Halfyard

    I'm sure I'll enjoy TT, but I have to say that I do like a good well-made stoner flick better than a well-made parody flick.

    Plus, I'm becoming a big, big fan of David Gordon Green as I go thru his filmography.

  12. Marina Antunes

    LOL LOL LOL

    The movie still you used for the review header is HYSTERICAL!

  13. I am so glad to see that somebody didn't give this movie a near perfect or perfect rating. When I saw it last night I was left with a bad taste in my mouth. I had to go home and watch Superbad, just so I could laugh. For my website I gave this movie a 6 out of 10.

    http://reviewbusters.net/movie/review.aspx?id=125

  14. Caught Pineapple last night. Was funny, reasonable solid, but not the 'great' film that I was hoping for, and the David Gordon Green touches were fewer and further between than I thought they would be. The few that are there, are great, but really, the film is shot with less verve than his previous films.

    And the set-pieces got a little too silly for my tastes. It was interesting how he tried to balance cartoon-y and gore, I don't think he quite got the balance right though.

  15. seeing this at noon today, by my lonesome. Roommates don't trust this movie. Even I'm leery, but I want to hit the theaters.

    Again, drug homor is kind of boring to me. I liked Cheech and Chong growing up, but because they made funny voices and songs, not because of any drugs. What I mean is more like how there was an early preview for the movie, and all it was was Rogen and Franco in a scene talking at length about a particular strain and its intricacies and it went on forever without a joke.

    But for a lot of stoners, they I guess would be sitting there watching it with the insensity my car geek friend did watching Dark Knight and seeing a lambourghini show up, and then recoil and shriek in horror as they destroy it.

  16. oh, and I bought a used copy of "All the Real Girls" the other day. I watched a few minutes of it (not enough to judge anything) and stopped it for now realizing if its some art house masterpiece I dont want to have a comedy ruined for me wishing he was doing something else.

  17. @Good: "I dont want to have a comedy ruined for me wishing he was doing something else."

    Heh. Guilty as charged on that one. I did expect a bit of a different experience because of the director, and while this ain't no hack-job, it's hardly transcendent of the genre or revolutionary either. There are a few little moments to hold on to in that regard, but not enough for me to rave about the film or anything. It's a 3/5 if I had to put a number on these things…

  18. extra half a star just for Franco's face in almost every scene. Tried to warn you not to be looking for the smash, stoner-comedy hit of the decade.

    Tropic Thunder is going to kick this thing's ass. can't wait.

  19. Just came back from Pineapple Express.

    While I didn't out and out hate it, I didn't like it either, and it is easily my least favorite of all the modern Apatow productions that I've seen. It's a case of something I sort of liked never overcoming its problems.

    Green manages to make this a better looking movie than most comedies, but his sense of timing I have to say – is awful, and is the single biggest problem with this movie. Things feel out of place, one liners and jokes that probably would have worked under say, an Adam McKay, aren't funny here. Or maybe it actually is a byproduct of the very same task of making things look a little better than most comedies – these things just don't mesh like they should. Mind you, the script is quite flawed too, but really I think Green was a terrible match for this movie.

    Rogen was meh, there were only very few chuckles in a moderately packed theater, Franco was pretty great actually and the best part of the film. Cole was absolutely wasted in his role. Perez was… just there, I mean she didn't do anything important. The girlfriend stuff was pointless and seemed to only be there for that break-up realization.

    So anyways, I was moderately enjoying the movie when it was a little more laid back and actually doing the basic drug stuff that I already said I was dreading. At least there the characters were somewhat likeable, and the weird opening of the movie was still fresh in my head – in other words, it was showing promise. But the action scenes, aside from being uninteresting and even a little confusing, aren't funny, are out of place, and the gore actually detracts from everything. It was pretty much filler really, so you could have these damaged characters end up in a halfway decent pancake house ending.

    So overall, I'm a 2/5 on this one, and probably won't remember anything about this movie in a year. It's already just fading away. Not much a comedy. Not much of an action movie. Not even much of a stoner movie. Not much of anything at all.

  20. I shouldnt have said "gore", as it isnt – but I mean, the ear stuff, the random killing, etc – it was never really funny or even gross out worthy, it was just kinda lame. The only thing like that that anyone reacted to was Red shooting Matheson's foot off.

  21. Yup. You just summed up my entire review in two short paragraphs. I just liked it a bit more than you did. The laughs work. But I'll never bother with it again (aside from maybe a few key scenes on YouTube one day).

  22. Agreed Good **VERY MILD SPOILERS*** It was a strange collection of elements in the film and Green couldn't quite find the balance. My favourite parts of the movie are when it decides not really to be about plot. The guys hanging out in the forest, the extended house-fight @reds, All the process servers stuff.

    And yes, the whole Amber Herd thread was clumsy, not the least of which was Herd's performance. And I like Nora Dunn as much as the next guy, but that small part probably would have been 10x better if it was Patricia Clarkson (A DGG regular). As it was it was a bit on the potty-mouthed sitcom side of things…

  23. Caught this yesterday, thought it was pretty great. At this point I still think Superbad is the best Apatow-produced movie to date, but this one may take that title. I need to give it time.

    It doesn't have the total look or feel of a Green movie, but that's not necessarily a bad thing. He's trying something different, working outside of his usual scope – he's making a comedy/action movie. He gets points for infusing heart, sympathy into the characters, which leads into…

    The theme of the movie was friendship, what friends will do for each other, or how they will hurt each other or let each other down. Franco's acting pushed that theme hardest, but it was well supported by the three great character actors, Dany McBride, Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson.

    I laughed a lot watching this. It's hard to fuck up laughs from Rogen, McBride and Franco. They're all very funny to just listen to and watch.

    I'm not sure why you guys think Cole was wasted. His character didn't need to be in the story all that much, but when he was Cole was great at hamming it up as the drunken buffoon boss.

  24. Far be it for me to disagree with Goon on anything but I have to say I really enjoyed this film. I only vaguely understand the cautious enthusiasm of people like Andrew and Kurt here, I thought it was what it was supposed to be, a stoner film, and a fine one at that.

  25. also I loved the action sequences, I loved all the gratutious violence, like when Rosie Perez is shooting and she hits innocent bystanders, and the Three Stooges ramming of heads into things, there was such a glee for going above and beyond the norm of violence. They shoot Red in the stomach, and from every other film one knows that such a wound is fatal and extremely painful but they play it off as a running joke that for me totally worked.

    I think you guys are nuts, this has repeat watch value for me.

  26. The "action" sequence at the end for me was a little played out after a couple minutes. It goes on and on and on and is not particularly entertaining.

    I do like the shot (in the trailer too) of Rogen leaping from the scaffolding on to the bad guy. Looks cool and is kind of funny (especially with MIA playing in the background).

  27. I think it was the point for the action sequences to be played out, but also I found them funny and enjoyable because of how visceral there were willing to go… which is slightly different from the over-the-top one-joke approach of the end of Hot Fuzz (which I did enjoy still). The violence in the film looked like it would really hurt, it wasn't padded by the usual hollywood softening, and that was obviously deliberate. It wasn't just imitating action films, it fused it with slapstick, and I thought it was great.

  28. Marina Antunes

    I only mildly enjoyed this. Something about it didn't work for me and I think Good (or is that Goon?) nailed it – the timing was off. It did have some great funny moment and the violence was a bit of a surprise – I wasn't expecting that from a stoner flick – but other than a few scenes that suggested Green's other films, I didn't see anything too different here. I'd mark this one into the disappointment category. It didn't make me laugh.

  29. Kurt Halfyard

    I'm going to give the 'repeat' watch thing a try, the wife is interested and we'll probably get out to it tonite. We'll see what a second viewing does. The fight in Red's house is an instant classic bit, and I like lots of bits, it just felt…..well, I guess I wanted more….

    We shall see.

  30. timing was off? perhaps I was enjoying this film on the level that it requires, I give this film loads of liberties because it is meant to be a film that appeals to people who are stoned, and the notion of comedic timing ceases to be a strong point of contention when you consider that. I was sucked into the film's rhythms going from one laugh to the other and felt somewhat induced into a state of half-bakedness. Had I been truly baked I am sure it would have been even better.

    I also love the set designs and the crazy attention to detail in the film, that is a stoner's delight right there, all the things to look at. Oh man, you guys are missing the point of this, it works perfectly.

  31. After seeing the Tropic Thunder trailer a few more times I am not so optimistic on it anymore… I think Pineapple Express is the comedy of the summer.

  32. What, people are excited about Tropic Thunder? Looks pretty meh to me. broad and obvious. I hope to be proved wrong, but never thought it would be 1/2 the film that Pineapple express was (is).

  33. Don't get me wrong rot, PE is delightful and funny. I had loads of laughs. 3 1/2 stars is pretty good for a comedy in my books. It's no "A Fish Called Wanda, Lebowski or Dazed and Confused" though. It's entertaining. Just not over and over again.

  34. And oh yes, I'm very eagerly anticipating Tropic Thunder. If it is pants-shittingly funny (as it looks to be), I can't wait to see it more than once. It's RDJ. Done.

    Perhaps you're put-off by the un-PC of the whole thing? Which is exactly what I like about it btw. Fuck people and their sensitivities.

  35. Kurt Halfyard

    No, it just looks to be a bit too broad for my tastes, and a bit too pandering. I hope to be wrong on this. But fear I'm right.

  36. "a bit too pandering."

    The acting style in the trailers has been broad and over the top, but I think you're too quick to use the p-word here. Its doing somewhat subversive stuff for a summer comedy referencing things its audience may not even be aware of. I'm hopeful for TT but have low expectations, but regardless a movie should be able to please a broad audience without you having to resort to the "pandering" argument.

    I mean, lets go back to the definition here:

    "To cater to the lower tastes and desires of others or exploit their weaknesses"

    You and I definitely enjoy movies that are considered of 'lower tastes', exploiting our weaknesses towards emotion or a specific sense of humor, or simple gore, or simply liking a superhero in spandex, I mean Kurt, at this point you're trotting the word out so often its losing all meaning for me, just some catch-all phrase to insult something you're not into. You're gonna have to do a little better, man. Seriously.

    "perhaps I was enjoying this film on the level that it requires"

    I didn't expect anything other than to laugh and enjoy the characters. I somewhat enjoyed Rogen, I loved Franco. For a buddy movie Franco kind of stole the show, I mean normally with a Cheech and Chong or Harold and Kumar or Bill and Ted or whathaveyou, there's a bit more of a balance going on. The way things were built here, Rogen should have been more of a fussy straightman, but he was shoehorning in a lot of one liners that didn't really connect. I don't have much better critique to make than that it really wasn't all that funny or memorable, and when a comedy isn't making me laugh, even more so than a drama it becomes a lot easier to notice all the other problems with it, and PE has a shitload of em.

    I really do again say it all comes down to Green being a mismatch. I really don't think he's much of an editor, both when quick cuts are required, and not being able to stop a shitload of scenes that really go on way too long, including:

    the intro

    the cross joint scene

    the ending fight

    the ending

    mind you, the 2nd example i give there works better than the others, because the characters are likeable enough to carry it, but still it wears itself out by the end. by the time the dude who wants percosets shows up i wish Rogen would just walk out of the room.

  37. oh, and btw, theres talk about PE and Superbad combining into a sequel together for each film. I'd be all for it. Even though I didn't like PE overall again, I certainly didn't hate it, and would be fine seeing Saul being given the Jay and Silent Bob treatment being inserted into other Apatow films.

  38. @Goon "Its doing somewhat subversive stuff for a summer comedy referencing things its audience may not even be aware of. "

    A very good point there. I'm never willing to write off Ben Stiller because he can be very clever and subtle and heck, subversive. I love THE CABLE GUY. Despite the mountain of shit he does (Polly, Museum, etc.) he still manages to come out with the occasional ringer.

  39. Tropic Thunder destroys Pineapple Express. It isn't even close. TT is the best blockbuster of the year.

    The best comparison I can give to TT is Hot Fuzz. The story isn't as tight, but the acting is much better, and they both are quite effective at skewering Hollywood and action film cliches.

  40. Kurt Halfyard

    Nice. I now hold you personally responsible if this movie sucks, Matt. ;)

  41. Well, TT actually has cohesive story telling, fully formed and functioning metaphors, and is tightly edited as to remove the ambiguous, redundant and ultimately trivial non-linear elements, so you'll probably hate it. :D

  42. The title for best Apatow work remains with Superbad, although I thought Franco was rather brilliant as exactly the kind of stoner I run into regularly in my daily life in S. Florida.

    Rot, I'm surprised that you give the movie an honest A for being exactly the type of fare that would appeal to stoners. I quote the legendary druggie, the Streets, "Hello. My names Tim and I'm a criminal,/In the eyes of society I need to be in jail/For the choice of herbs I inhale./This ain't no wholesale operation/Just a few eighths and some Playstations my's vocation/I pose a threat to the nation/And down the station the police hold no patience/Let's talk space and time/I like to get deep sometimes and think about Einstein/And Carl Jung And old Kung Fu movies I like to see/Pass the hydrator please

    Yeah I'm floating on thin air./Going to Amsterdam in the New Year – top gear there/Cause I taker pride in my hobby

    Home made bongs using my engineering degree/Dear Leaders, please legalise weed for these reasons."

    It felt to me kind of like Apatow farted a screenplay together out of stoner cliches and action movie cliches. Didn't feel like the same honest and humble work form the guy that brought us the brilliant (and superior) Superbad. And I missed Jonah Hill's presence…

    Your willingness to underestimate the stoner attention span is pure stonism! Stonist!

  43. Sorry, Perc but you are categorically wrong about Superbad, scientific tests have been done that indisputably prove Superbad to be an inferior work to Pineapple Express, and I am not one to challenge the integrity of science.

    Walking out of the theater I was quoting those same lyrics to my friend in a vigorous defense for the legalization of the herb.

    and I still think it is wrong to talk about comedic timing when the content of the film is about being on a plane of consciousness where such notions cease to have relevance. If ever there was a case to be made for the right to mindless entertainment it is the stoner comedy.

  44. I liked this movie.. it's a movie movie. Fun movie movie. No need to over analize. HOWEVER… That wrist watch he and his highschool girlfriend were wearing… Anybody know where to get it? lol. Sorry if i interrupted your deep analization of what is a light movie.

  45. I NEED that wrist watch that Dale Denton and his highschool chick are wearing!!!!

    If you know the brand and model, please tell me!

    mindy_moo_2006 at yahoo.com

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