- Rated R
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All photos © Sony Pictures
Reviewed by Jason Zingale
f there’s one thing that I learned from watching “Pineapple Express,” it’s that you shouldn’t get too hyped about a movie that has the potential to disappoint. “The Dark Knight” is one thing – that film was practically guaranteed to deliver on every level – but a stoner comedy is something entirely different. For starters, the “Harold and Kumar” films have already tread similar ground twice in the last few years, and though “Pineapple Express” is far more ambitious, it runs into the same exact problems – namely bad pacing and a lack of consistent laughs. That doesn’t mean the movie isn’t any good, but if you lower your expectations, you’ll have much more fun.
Seth Rogen stars as Dale Denton, a 25-year-old slacker who splits his time between working a dead-end job as a process server, hanging out with his high school girlfriend (Amber Heard), and smoking pot. During a routine buy from his drug dealer, Saul (James Franco), Dale is introduced to Pineapple Express, a new strain of weed that is so rare, Saul is the only guy in town who’s selling it. That same night, Dale witnesses a murder committed by local drug lord Ted Jones (Gary Cole), and as he flees the scene of the crime, he leaves behind a freshly smoked joint of Pineapple Express that leads directly back to Saul. With Ted’s hired goons (Craig Robinson and Kevin Corrigan) hot on their trail, the duo head to Saul’s supplier (Danny McBride) for refuge, but when they realize that he’s given them up in order to save his own neck, Dale and Saul are forced to go on the run.
Written by “Superbad” scribes Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, “Pineapple Express” makes for an entertaining trip to the movies, but it’s not as laugh-out-loud funny as their previous effort. In fact, while both men have been credited for penning the screenplay, the dialogue is so sloppy that it sounds mostly improvised. Some of it works and some of it doesn’t, but one has to wonder why they didn’t just stick to the page. Is it possible that director David Gordon Green was bullied by Rogen and producer Judd Apatow into letting them do whatever they wanted? It sure feels like it, because although Green proves that he’s capable of branching out from his indie roots with some well-shot action sequences, he never seems completely in control.
It also doesn’t help that your leading man is suffering from a serious case of overexposure. Rogen has appeared in five movies this year (with a sixth on the way), and with every role that he plays, it’s become painfully obvious that he doesn’t have very much depth as an actor. Thankfully, James Franco is there to add a little credibility to the project as the ultra-friendly, drug-dealing Saul. An Apatow alum whose only appearance in recent years was a self-parodying cameo in “Knocked Up,” Franco owns the role – from the long, unkempt hair to the multi-colored pajama pants – and in doing so, will likely go down as one of the more memorable stoners in film. Supporting performances by Danny McBride and Craig Robinson are also noteworthy, while the inspired casting of Gary Cole and Rosie Perez (as a dirty cop on Ted’s payroll) only makes you wish they were given more screen time.
“Pineapple Express” is one of those movies where the trailer gives away all of the best moments. There are some funny one-liners along the way (not to mention an entertaining action sequence in the final act), but for the most part, it’s not nearly as zany as you'd expect. The movie certainly had the potential to be better (I was hoping for something along the lines of “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle” meets “Hot Fuzz), but the end result is half-baked at best. Here's hoping the studio doesn't give Rogen and Co. quite as much free reign the next time around.
Single-Disc Unrated DVD Review:
The single-disc release of “Pineapple Express” isn’t even remotely as good as the two-disc special edition DVD and Blu-ray, but for those that don’t care too much about bonus features, there’s still a decent collection of extras to be found. Along with an unrated cut of the film (with five additional minutes of footage), the DVD also features a lively audio commentary with more than ten different participants (from director David Gordon Green and producer Judd Apatow to stars Seth Rogen and James Franco), a making-of featurette, a handful of deleted scenes, and a gag reel.