Review: Pineapple Express

Seth Rogen and James Franco star in a stoner/buddy/action/comedy that is usually fairly humorous, but drags at the end and maybe over stayed its welcome a bit too long.
Dale (Seth Rogen) is a process server, handing out subpoenas all day while intermittently getting high between stop to stop. Saul (James Franco) is Dale’s dealer of two months who spends his day watching two TV’s and getting high himself. After a recent stop to Saul’s, in which he and Dale had a bit of a bonding experience over his exclusive rights to the very good Pineapple Express weed, Dale is about to serve Ted Jones (Gary Cole) when he witness him murder and Asian man with the assistance of female cop Carol (Rosie Perez). Dale attempts to flee the scene, making a scene himself ramming into the cars around him, tossing his joint out the window and rushing to Saul’s for help. Jones finds the joint and is able to detect that it is Pineapple Express, hence sending his goons to Saul’s to figure out what just happened and to shut up who ever saw him. The odd couple gets bent out of shape on paranoia and flees into the woods as the try and figure out how they can track them with their ridiculous philosophies. The movie carries on from here as a traditional cat and mouse hunt between Jones and his thugs pursuing Saul and Dale, with a smattering or random faces being pulled into the bigger picture as the overall mess grows bigger and bigger over the significance of Dale witnessing the murder.
The film itself is pretty funny over the course of the first 2/3 of the film or so, with a couple of dragging scenes, but nothing that holds the film back. The actors are allowed to create these silly, but real, conversations and we get to kind of just look in on the bonding among these characters. It is when we get to the predictable and clichéd comedy “break-up” between the leads that the film starts to drag a bit and almost grinds to a halt during the big finale. The film kind of wants to make fun of conventional turns in a film and action set pieces, but for every convention it lampoons it falls right into another. And the action is silly and funny at moments, but also seems like they were trying to make it really cool other times. The director David Gordon Green and scripter’s Rogen and Evan Goldberg just seem to not be able to really settle on what they want the film to be or find a good balance; the action is pretty much mediocre most of the time outside a couple of good explosions here or there. The film overall is a bold attempt to mix a lot of genre’s and it kind of works, kind of doesn’t, but it is definitely not terrible by any means; and many times it is pretty good.
Luckily, any confusion in what the filmmakers were going for is made up for by the solid actors work in the film. Seth Rogen isn’t playing anything terribly new but we aren’t tired of his shtick yet so he continues to easily entertain. I think he is continuously funny because he doesn’t play dumb, even though he might do dumb things; he also spouts some of the best improv lines one could imagine as well. Gary Cole plays a decent bad guy, selling us on the ridiculousness of the coincidences and convoluted plot that come up, with Rosie Perez being pretty much a non-factor in the film. Bill Hader has an excellent and hilarious cameo to open the film, and no you aren’t in the wrong theater when it opens. Danny McBride continues to show up in almost every movie and he is pretty funny as the flip flopping drug middle man for Saul, Red. He has a number of good one liners, and the fight in his house is funny and memorable. Craig Robinson also crafts a unique and odd character as one of Jones’ thugs and you really don’t know what is going to come out of his mouth or what he might do next. His partner in the film played by Kevin Corrigan is a weird anomaly though as I don’t really get what he was supposed to be or why Robinson’s character is reasonably mad at him sometimes, odd. Amber Heard also has a couple of brief appearances as Dale’s girlfriend and she is consistently funny whenever she is on screen.
The stand out though is James Franco and he is worth the price of admission alone to see this film. He is just so out there, and nails that stoner/dealer role to a T, that it is just a joy to watch. Almost everything he says is funny and the film will be worth watching again just to get down some of his one liners you might have missed. Great work Franco.
In the end, Pineapple Express is a fun and silly stoner comedy that has some ok action. Go for the comedy and you will be happy as Franco really shines and the movie is never really dull in that department. The end of the film drags on and on for way to long with nothing really happening and could have been a lot better had they trimmed things up through out. I think Pineapple will grow on subsequent viewings like any good comedy should, but I can’t say I am not a little disappointed as they have seem to have squandered a potentially great premise and got mixed results in the end. Pineapple Express is a good film, with a great turn by James Franco.
B-

One thought on “Review: Pineapple Express

  1. Zac Oldenburg’s comments on films seen are diligent and well received by his audience. A combination of humbling wit and simplistic readability make Zac a force to be reckon with in blogger society. I am yet to see a self proclaimed “twenty something” write with such passion and enthusiasm as young Oldenburg. A true critic who’s dazzling reviews overshadow a ever growing field of mediocre bloggers. Bravo Zac, Bravo.

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