Uh — "Pineapple Express" could use some quality control, man
Pineapple Express misses the buddy-action-comedy mark — along with a stream of other similar films this year.
Seattle Times staff reporter
"Pineapple Express," with Seth Rogen, James Franco. Directed by David Gordon Green, from a screenplay by Rogen and Evan Goldberg. 111 minutes. Rated R for pervasive language, drug use, sexual references and violence. Several theaters.
Movie review |
Dude: You know what would really be cool? If you could buy an actual joint at the concession stand for movies like "Pineapple Express."
(Cough. Wave. Cough.)
And not just because it would make the popcorn taste better. Maybe I'd have thought this buddy-action-comedy was funnier and more exciting if I were as baked as its two heroes. This latest one from the Judd Apatow assembly line — how many dozens have there been this year? — gives off a whiff of Paraquat. Maybe Apatoke and his bros ("Knocked Up," "Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Step Brothers," "Drillbit Taylor") should slow down a little and try some quality control.
Seth Rogen (who co-wrote with his "Superbad" partner Evan Goldberg) plays Dale Denton, an ace process server who uses a variety of disguises to nail his hard-to-reach quarry every time. The doughy, curly-haired, bearlike stoner also has a hot girlfriend (Amber Heard) — who's in high school. "Pineapple Express" is the rare, superstrong brand of weed he buys from Saul Silver (James Franco), an amiable dealer who's supporting his grandma in the nursing home and just wants to hang out with Dale.
The plot is simple. Lazily so: Dale pulls over to torch up some of the new PineEx and sees a drug lord splatter someone's brains against a window. Tracking the distinctive roach that Dale left behind, said drug lord and his corrupt cop (Gary Cole and Rosie Perez, both as stock as it gets, which hurts if you've rewatched Cole in "Office Space" recently) send henchmen to eliminate the witness and his connection. Start the chase, the mishaps, the lame misunderstanding, the makeup.
Against type as the uptight one, Rogen is entertainingly exasperating. And Franco, known foremost as Spider-Man's blandly hateful friend Harry Osborn, is surprisingly funny and endearing as the loopy burnout. But they're both trapped in a story that doesn't have many laugh-out-loud moments. There's a clever black-and-white prologue in which a soldier (Bill Hader) smokes marijuana cigarettes for a military experiment, but the rest seems like a different movie. Different unless you count exec-producer Apatow et al. (he also gets a story credit) going back yet again to the well of sweetly raunchy and slightly homoerotic male bonding. And talk about lazy: They never even wrap up the subplot involving the girlfriend and her awful family.
The buddy-action-comedy genre is so done that when the rare gems such as "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" and "Hot Fuzz" come along, they only make you wish that you could travel back in time to empty a clip of hollow-points into everyone responsible for the "Lethal Weapon" series before they could inflict it on anyone.
With "Snow Angels" and "All the Real Girls" on his C.V., David Gordon Green is a counterintuitive choice for director. Even stone-cold straightedge viewers will notice an awkwardness and inertia to his pacing and staging. The action isn't exciting, and relies on the sheer shock of the old ultraviolence (as Alex would say in "A Clockwork Orange") for propulsion.
An epilogue makes it clear that Apatow and his crew have some level of self-awareness, though. As overlong as everyone complains his movies are, this one's no exception, and characters actually take the time to recap stuff! Call me paranoid, but I'm going to take that as a big middle finger.
Mark Rahner: 206-464-8259 or firstname.lastname@example.org
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