I suppose it was only a matter of time until the stoner comedy collided with the action film. Pineapple Express attacks the notion full-throttle, and the results are largely a success. The film reunites the screenwriting team of Superbad and adds renowned Independent director David Gordon Green to the mix. While things aren’t as focused as they could have been and a good twenty minutes could have been chopped off the final cut with no complaints, the movie’s pure energy and flawless comic timing make it a quality late summer diversion.
Dale Denton (Rogen) loves weed. His job, as a process servant for the courts, allows him to smoke all day without anyone suspecting a thing since he often must don disguises to get people to admit their real identity – thus allowing him to serve them a subpoena. Dale’s dealer is Saul Silver (Franco), a stereotypical stoner who literally has weed in every drawer of his apartment. Saul’s latest flavor is Pineapple Express, a very rare herb that is only supplied by the city’s drug lord, Ted Jones (Cole). When Dale witnesses a murder at Jones’ property, he accidentally drops his joint, which is laced with Pineapple Express. Now Dale and Saul are on the run from Jones and his associates.
Pineapple Express operates at a breathless pace, whether it is comically choreographed, over-the-top action sequences or stoner dialogue between Dale and Saul. It veers from stoner comedy to a black comedy of sorts in the final act, with some cringe-inducing violence that many may not see coming. As a send-up of the action genre, which is largely on the fritz, Pineapple Express is surprisingly effective. A chase scene in which Saul attempts to kick an already-spider webbed windshield out of the way is worth the price of admission alone.
What really makes the film click is the duo of Seth Rogen and James Franco. They play off each other with ease as Rogen’s straight-man persona is masterfully timed. Franco undergoes a near-complete transformation from his previous efforts as Saul, and I hope he continues to branch out in upcoming projects. The supporting cast is superb, particularly Danny McBride as the constantly-injured Red, an acquaintance of Saul’s. Gary Cole is effective as the robe-wearing drug lord and Rosie Perez, resurrected from the dead it seems, is notable as corrupt cop Carol.
Pineapple Express introduces a bit of a twist to the stoner genre, but thanks to the persistence of the leads and a quality casting job, the film stands as a worthy addition to the Judd Apatow canon. The man is on such a roll that you have to wonder what’s going to stop him, but as long as he keeps producing and/or directing fresh comedies, one can only hope this ride never ends.
Studio: Columbia Pictures
Length: 111 Minutes
Rating: R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence.
Theatrical Release: August 6, 2008
Directed by: David Gordon Green
Written by: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg. Story by Judd Apatow & Rogen & Goldberg.
Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny R. McBride, Kevin Corrigan, Craig Robinson, Gary Cole