Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Trying to Pass Snicklefritz off as Top Bud

Pineapple Express

Release: 08.06.2008
Rated R
1 hour, 51 minutes

Matinee ($$$)

I admit I have never been much for films featuring drug use. Mostly, I avoided the nasty dramatized films that featured sunken-eyed druggies with gaping sores struggling with their addictions. I was always more forgiving for the comedic stoner films. Superbad scribes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg definitely intrigued me with the concept of mixing off-beat stoner humor with a good 'ol action romp.

The premise is that process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen, Knocked Up) witnesses a violent murder while on his way to serve Ted Jones (Gary Cole, Office Space). Panicked, he runs to his drug dealer, Saul (James Franco, Spider-Man), and the two go on the lam before they are killed for what they know.

Franco is friggin' awesome as bud-dealin', bud-smokin' Saul. He is goofy, charismatic and fun every minute he is onscreen. Rogen continues to play the self-effacing smart-ass capably. A rising favorite of myself and my wife, Danny R. 'Bust-Ass' McBride (Hot Rod), appears as drug middleman Red, who had us in stitches, and not just because of his ridiculous hi-top fade.

Pineapple Express doesn't struggle in the acting or the stoner comedy aspect; it fails in two other respects. Its first weakness lies in its action. One moment, the action parodies those great cheesy action flicks of my wonder years, but at other times, it plays it straight. I enjoyed the realistic aspects to some of the fights and chases, but felt confused when other scenes emphasized the unbelievable. Perfect examples of this are the would-be hitmen hunting our two dope-smoking protagonists, played by Kevin Corrigan (Superbad) and Chris Robinson (Knocked Up). To make the action pay off, director David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls) really should have picked one path, either parody or serious, and stuck with it.

The second unforgivable weakness is the blatant misuse of the villains, in particular Gary Cole. Any action film worth its weight will balance the protagonists' struggle with the villains' motivations. Cole exudes the smarmy drug kingpin vibe, but his scenes are too few and too brief. His henchwoman, Carol (Rosie Perez, White Men Can't Jump), speaks maybe three complete lines. The result? Pineapple Express has these vapid, awkward moments between weed jokes and action scenes that could have easily been filled with crucial villain development. The final confrontation just lacks....something. Even the Asian mob with whom Cole's character is battling feels like a tagged-on excuse to use Apatow regular Ken Jeong (Knocked Up).

Dirty Undies

Despite dogging out the structure of the action, I have to praise Express for providing excessive bloodshed, gunfire and death. However, I think our duo smokes more joints than villains. There's definitely plenty of vulgar shit-talking and absolutely no sex, unless you get turned on by Rogen in his skidmarked tighty-whiteys. And here I was hoping to see those D's, motherfucker, D's, Rosie Perez!

The Money Shot
Pineapple Express turned out to be the second comedy this month that failed to be hilarious despite having an abundance of Jew fros and man-child humor. The Apatow crew may want to lay off the weed; the smoke might tarnish their shine.

Large Association of Movie Blogs


  1. Is it just me, or is your rating higher than your review would suggest? I think my overall rating lies with your $$$.

    Either way, your criticisms are dead on. The action, the use of Gary Cole, the random tossing in of Perez, the pointless Asian mob subplot - I couldn't have put it better. To add insult to injury, the Asian mob was borderline offensive.

    the more I think about Franco/Saul, the more I'm loving the role and performance. Worth a watch all by itself.

  2. As you know, my ratings system is in serious need of repair. I am working on an updated version of the current system, but until then, it's best to defer to the content.

    I give PE some much deserved tough love. I laughed a bunch, but there was potential for it to be so much better. Glossing over the Asian subplot was insulting enough without adding the stereotypes.

    I think if there's a sequel to PE, it should be all about the misadventures of Franco/Saul.