Reel Society

Reviews for the latest movies in theaters and on DVD.

Pineapple Express

   
Review by Chris Maitland

Seth Rogen is pretty much the go-to guy for comedy these days. He normally brings 110% to the scripts that he helps to write, and he has also starred in (and wrote) some of the funniest films of all time. I am happy to report that Pineapple Express is another solid entry on Rogen’s resume, but it could have been better. This movie is being hailed as “The Godfather of stoner comedies.”  I don’t think that is true, but it is a still a great film.

The plot centers around Rogen’s character, lazy stoner Dale Denton, who, as a process server, has lots of time to sit around and smoke weed “on the job”. He visits his dealer Saul (James Franco), who sells Dale on this rare strain of weed called “Pineapple Express”. That same night, Dale accidentally witnesses a drug dealer and crooked cop committing a murder a man, whereupon Dale throws the P.E. out the window.  Unfortunately, the bad guys find it, and all hell breaks loose.

The best thing about Pineapple Express, surprisingly, is not Rogen but James Franco. I had no idea he could be so funny, having gotten used to his rather leaden performances as Harry Osborn in the Spider-Man films.  I think that he should definitely do more comic roles, as he was brilliant in this.  The supporting actors, who were fantastically cast, includes Danny McBride, Gary Cole, and Rosie Perez, and they all shined (especially McBride, who I think has a definite future as a comedy star, having also seen him in last year’s Hot Rod, also one of the best “stupid” films ever).

However, this movie does have its down points. Director David Gordon Green, who has been primarily an indie film director until this one, has a style that is a little too manic for my tastes. It was valiant effort, but it got a little tiring.  The action sequences were kind of cool, but pretty dumb (and I don’t mean that in a good way this time). In my opinion, Rogen and co-writer Evan Goldberg tried a little too hard blend together multiple genres. This movie works best as a stoner comedy, with eccentric characters and great one-liners, but lost some of its allure with the action sequences (and the wholly unnecessary subplot with Dale and his high school girlfriend).

Overall, though, Pineapple Express was another good comedy for fans of Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen. It has all the staples that have made them both household names: well-written script, drug use galore and many, many sex jokes.  It wasn’t quite as funny or entertaining as previous efforts such as Superbad, Knocked Up and The 40-Year Old Virgin, but if you’re looking for a decent comedy this will fill your needs.  If, on the other hand, you are looking for a comic masterpiece, then you consider yourself served.

4 / 5 stars  

 

 
 
Review by Paul Edwards

I can only guess why Pineapple Express, Judd Apatow’s most ambitious work to date, is being released on a Wednesday (there have been some theories, but none have come from the big top). I figure that it is so it can get a head-start on its primary competition this month, Tropic Thunder, and to tentatively claim the “#1 Comedy of the Summer” title. Anyway, Southern-inspired video artist and director David Gordon Green directed this action/buddy/stoner comedy flick. And one of the biggest faults of the movie was its attempt to combine all those genres; to be more specific, in the buddy/stoner part, it does really well but in the comedic action sequences, it totally loses its way.

Seth Rogen plays Dale Denton, a process server that likes to toke up with his dealer, Saul Silver, played marvelously by a (finally!) approachable James Franco. In the first part of the movie we are introduced to these characters: Dale likes talk radio, and Saul likes to smoke dope. Then, after Saul sells Dale some of the rarest strain of weed in the city, dubbed “Pineapple Express”, Dale goes to serve another subpoena. Little does he know,  he will be witness to a murder.  From then on, there is a full-on buffet table of chaos, paranoia, stupidity, yelling, screaming, explosions, love, and “bromance.”

 The relationship between Dale and Saul is really a highlight of the first half of the film. The chemistry between Seth Rogen and James Franco keep the jokes coming through their hyperactive ‘talky’ style of dialogue. The dialogue works on one level, since it’s a stoner comedy, but still nearly two hours of this gets old really quickly, and in all that talk I nearly missed out what a wonderful job Franco and McBride did.  They did well.

Unfortunately, the movie destroys itself multiple times as the action scenes get more and more ridiculous. The laughter gets replaced by silence and even, at one point, downright rejection. It’s unfortunate, because if the first half had constituted the entire movie, it would have been stellar; unfortunately, the excessive random violence and the male genitalia jokes that were prevalent in the second half just got to bee a bit too much. The jokes start to miss (much like the bullets), the plot forgets itself, and everything wonderful that was built up in the beginning gets destroyed in a big ball of flames. It reminded me a lot of 2006’s Hot Fuzz in that respect; a perfectly good set-up, before it degenerated into something nonsensical and ridiculous.

As the plot got more and more away from what it built up, the slower and slower time seemed to pass; and the 111-minute runtime begins to feel like double that. It’s a sad day when an Apatow comedy isn’t funny (like the day that I saw Drillbit Taylor). Pineapple Express was much better, on the whole, then Drillbit, but there were still enough silent moments that left me wondering: how did Seth Rogen get typecast so quickly?  Unfortunately, it does not end well either. It was one of the worst endings I have seen and it made the nearly two hours feel like a real drag. 

2 ½ / 5 stars

 
 
 

Review by Mark Lengieza

Seth Rogen is quickly taking over Hollywood as the “must-see” comedic actor working today.  I once would have given that crown to the likes of Will Ferrell, Adam Sandler and Jim Carrey.  That being said, he is not the shining star of his latest comedy Pineapple Express.  That honor goes to James Franco.  I had previously never heard the name James Franco, and being a big Rogen fan, was just hoping that Franco would play well enough to let Rogen do his thing.  That wasn’t the case.  Franco stole the show.  Almost all of the funniest lines from this movie came right from Franco’s mouth.

That’s not to take anything away from Rogen, who plays much more of the straight man in this film (well, as much of a straight man as you can be when you are high as a kite in every scene).  The characters compliment each other very well, and let the story unfold around them without acting too completely over-the-top and ridiculous.  Each plays their character as completely likeable, and I was pulling for them from start to finish. 

Of course, it is still basically a stoner comedy, and by no means is a masterpiece.  It is not as good as last year’s Judd Apatow-fueled classic Superbad.  However, as far as this summer’s comedies go, I enjoyed it much more than I did Step Brothers, which I can’t help comparing it to.  I laughed in almost every scene (like I said, mostly at Franco).  The plot is crazy, but at least it is enjoyable.  It even has a whole lot of cool action at the end of the film, as well as a great car chase. 

Overall, the film was very good as stoner comedy, with some elements that go above and beyond just that.  If you don’t mind a plot that starts out crazy and completely blows up by the end, and are just looking for some great characters who will make you laugh, I think this one is a great pick.  In no way is it serious, but stoner humor rarely ever tries to be, and this is no exception.  I was kept thoroughly entertained and I would definitely recommend it for anyone looking for some laughs this summer.  Keep an eye on James Franco, I am betting that this will be a breakout performance for him.  I’d love to see him and Rogen team up again, as they really have terrific on-screen chemistry together.

4 / 5 stars
 
 
 

Review by Rebecca Roth

Pineapple Express follows a pair of hapless stoners through an unreal escape from perceived danger after pot-head Dale (Seth Rogen) witnesses a murder, sort of. In his stupefied panic he runs to his dealer - and apparently his only friend - Saul (James Franco), and they set off on a mindless and pointless attempt to escape the shooter, only drawing more attention to themselves in the process. Through a serious of highly paranoid decisions and severe ADD, they somehow basically destroy their lives and consecutively capture a criminal who happens to also be a drug dealer; seems like a bit of a conflicting message.

This ‘film’ follows the usual Judd Apatow model, typical Seth Rogen goofy tubby guy, nothing much unique. Unfortunately for the audience, they forgot to add the funny.  There are a number of lines that in reading them I can see the potential, but the actual delivery in the film is so bad it’s unbearable. For example, take the following line from Franco:  It's almost a shame to smoke it. It's like killing a unicorn...with, like, a bomb.”

I can almost see the appeal, it’s very nearly funny, but seeing the movie saps all funny from the line. Franco has been acting in “serious” movies for far too long and was absolutely not able to pull this character off in a way that was credible, and Rogen’s re-use of the same character is becoming stale after so many repeat performances; together they simply could not in any way carry this movie.

I have nothing against stoner comedies in any way, I’ve certainly enjoyed flicks like The Big Lebowski,  Harold & Kumar, and even Dude Where’s My Car?, so maybe I’m just missing something here. I was left feeling like Dale’s teenage girlfriend, who is really too mature to continue to put up with his lame-brained stoner act. Perhaps Pineapple Express was simply going for ultimate authenticity, because only someone stoned out of their mind could actually find this to be an enjoyable way to spend 2 hours.

 1 / 5 stars

Comments (1):

  • Next_Wednesday @ 08/06/2008 ( 10:09:34 PM )
    Hmmm, haven't seen Pineapple (not particularly interested in it) but the Hot Fuzz comment was a little off. I totally know what you mean, but I'm pretty sure that was the point of the movie, it was making fun of the genre and its nature to go OTT in the third act.
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