Pineapple Express

Pineapple Express


Reviewed by: Scott Macdonald

I can't think of many funny comedies where marijuana is a major player - Cheech and Chong can take a hike. Aside from the Camberwellian Carrot sporting Withnail & I, and possibly Harold And Kumar Get The Munchies - which featured a sex scene with an anthropomorphisised big ol' bag of weed, they're thin on the ground. Pineapple Express is a highly entertaining addition to this roster. The story is relatively complex but ultimately exists to get the characters into unsophisticated situations which will make you laugh yourself silly. The material has everything you expect from the genre, but is mostly handled very well.

The movie is an affectionate and easygoing double-act. Seth Rogen plays Dale, a process server whose real affections lie not with his still-in-high-school girlfriend (Amber Heard), but the weed he sneaks off for a fly joint or 12 in between serving. James Franco as Saul, his dealer with an encyclopedic and appreciative knowledge of the various kinds of marijuana, reveals a gift for physical comedy. He switches his usual striking and expressive face for sweetly innocent stoned-out eyes and eventual rubber-faced shenanigans, and his character has most of the best laughs. Both characters play the movie completely stoned.

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Dale witnesses a murder by a corrupt police officer Brazier (Rosie Perez). Panicking, he drops his half-finished Pineapple Express - noted by Saul as "the dopest dope ever smoked" - joint and speeds away, but is seen by her partner in crime, Ted (Gary Cole). Ted recognises the joint, and traces it back to the source. Dale and Saul spend much of the movie on the run, which is quite a sight given neither of them can actually be bothered doing anything athletic while completely baked. Something that bothered me, although it was lightly handled, was the selling of the precious marijuana to school-kids - they're out of money and need to buy food and bus-tickets to get out of town.

David Gordon Green, America's cine poet-laureate (George Washington, All The Real Girls) takes the reins with surprising style. He is certainly a director-for-hire here, but handles the very silly script impressively. Like producer Judd Apatow's other movies, everyone in it is refreshingly unhip - although the script has less of Apatow's flair for human comedy. Effective and personable comic actors such as Ed Begley Jr. and Perez are sidelined, which is a shame. The story and comic situations are unfocussed and fuzzy, although it could be argued that this is the point of the potent drug kicking into the script. Occasionally, strong violence will snap them (and us) back into focus - but other moments drive us back into hysterics, like a fantastic take on the old Blues Brothers staple, the squad car chase.

The film is completely pointless, and you may wish Green had stuck to what he does best, but this is a comedy - and you will laugh pretty damn often. Rogen and Evan Goldberg - who wrote Superbad, one of last year's best films - know how to write funny dialogue, and Franco is a surprising outlet for much of it. The sight of the pair, along with a third friend trying to recount the story is delightful; their telling is backwards, forwards and mostly uttered in synergistic half-sentances. Which is what you expect from a bunch of stoners, but done well enough so you won't care.

The BBFC, in their classification information note "although the tone of the film is light it does not, as a whole, promote or encourage such drug use." - I disagree. Pineapple Express is most definitely pro-pot. If you end up watching it high (in a country where such psychotropic drugs are legal - naturally), I'd be interested to know how you get on!

Reviewed on: 15 Sep 2008
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Stoner comedy about a dude and his dealer on the run.
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Director: David Gordon Green

Writer: Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg, Judd Apatow

Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Kevin Corrigan, Craig Robinson, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Ed Begley Jr., Nora Dunn, Amber Heard, Joe Lo Truglio, Arthur Napiontek, Cleo King, Bill Hader, James Remar

Year: 2008

Runtime: 111 minutes

BBFC: 15 - Age Restricted

Country: USA


SSFF 2012

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