Outside the Frame

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Film Review: Pineapple Express

with 2 comments

Laughs, bongs and guns. A couple of misses but mostly hits.

 

Watching or reading any interview with Seth Rogan and you would be forgiven for thinking that his films would be mired in a daze of bong smoke. He happily discusses his love for smoking weed, and if you have ever met a pot-head you would know that their train of thought is not always coherent and they can find amusement in the most mundane of things. Yet for this 26 year old jewish-canadian pot-head, these negative marijuana symptoms do not carry over onto the screen. Rather he has been quite successful in appealing to the wider audience. Actor and screenwriter, Rogan has become rather popular over the past couple of years, rising from unknown teenager in under-rated TV show Freaks & Geeks to witty supporting actor in The 40 Year Old Virgin and then moving up to very funny leading man in Knocked Up and very funny scribe for Superbad. Now he stars in Pineapple Express, which he also penned with writing partner Evan Goldberg, and his funniness continues.

Pineapple Express is at it’s core a buddy movie. But is it a buddy-comedy or buddy-action movie? Well it is both, and performs well on both fronts. There have been numerous combinations of these type of films over the years and so it is hard to come up with one that is any bit original. Rogan and Goldberg have succeeded in this, at least in the initial premise of the film. To sum it up, it is about mostly-stoned Dale Denton (Rogan) and his always-stoned pot dealer Saul Silver (Spiderman’s James Franco), who get caught up in a drug war between two gangs, all the while exploring the pot-dead/dealer relationship. Now for most people, especially anyone anti-drug or anyone NOT a teenage/university male, a film that follows the shenanigans of two pot-heads is probably one to automatically dismiss. But rarely does Pineapple Express rely too heavily on any stoner-niche comedy, even though the title is named after a fictional strand of marijuana. The laughs are genuinely funny, not as said earlier, mired in a haze of bong smoke that only stoners would find funny. And the laughs are there throughout the whole movie. Rogan and Franco are both great at bringing the funny and pretty much unknown Danny McBride manages to top them as Red, the pot-dealer one step above Saul in the drug-chain. 

The buddy aspect of the movie is also well written, and actually kind of sweet (watch for Saul and Dale’s discussion while hiding up a tree), as a relationship founded on the exchange of illegal substances manages to turn into friendship. And by the end you really come to like the two guys, which is interesting as they are not exactly the most sympathetic of characters, for one thing 24 year old Dale is dating a high school girl and is the bastard who serves people a court summons. The action is also a welcome component to the film, never cartoonish and sometimes quite violent, that would sate any action fan. And this is where director David Gordon Green puts his mark onto the film, framing some great gun battles, an entertaining car chase and one hell of a Jackass-like fight scene between Saul, Dale and Red that is laugh-out-loud funny. 

On the whole Pinapple Express is a more than satisfying film. It does suffer occasionally on the narrative fluidity when the stoner jokes hit their punch-line and then the story struggles to get back on track. And some of the supporting cast are either underused (Gary Cole, Bobby Lee) or irrelevant (Rosie Perez). But the combination of Rogan and Franco more than make up for it, and when McBride joins them the film really shines. You could say this is a typical popcorn comedy, but it is actually more than that: clever, original and most of all genuinely funny, and certainly worth the admission price.

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Written by Dale Weber

Thursday, 14 August, 2008 at 3:31 pm

2 Responses

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  1. Hey, great review. I think you really hit the spot when you said that the combination of Rogen, Franco, and especially McBride carried this film. I also agree with you that the movie wasn’t perfect, but overall it was popcorn fun.

    herculesrob

    Saturday, 16 August, 2008 at 11:16 am

  2. first half of Pineapple Express was about half as good as Knocked Up; the second half was almost as bad as Freddy Got Fingered

    movie buff

    Sunday, 31 August, 2008 at 4:38 pm


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