I’ve been promising a “Pineapple Express” review since last year and today I can finally deliver on that promise. Is it worth the wait? Find out thusly…
The story follows stoner Dale Denton (Seth Rogen, in his 500th film of 2008) who witnesses a murder. Panicked, he goes to his dealer, Saul (James Franco) and the pair end up going on the run. I actually liked the story, as I thought the idea of two stoners caught up in a highly dangerous and action-packed adventure was a good one. Of course, the “stoner film” isn’t a new idea as they were born in the late Seventies with Cheech and Chong’s “Up in Smoke”.More recent attempts to revive the genre include the god-awful “Harold and Kumar” films. So now it’s up to the Apatow team to have a go at flogging an expired equine. My one problem with the “stoner” genre is that because I’m not one, it seems like a lot of the jokes go over my head. It all feels like an in-joke that I’m not part of. However, “Pineapple Express” has enough accessible humour for that exclusion to not be a problem.
It’s safe to say I’m not the biggest Seth Rogen fan in the World. It’s not that I don’t like the guy, it’s just that he plays the same frickin’ character no matter what he’s in with only minor details changed. Having said that, Rogen’s character in “Knocked Up” and his character here are pratically the same, the only real difference being what their job is. So, 10 minutes into “Pineapple Express”, I wasn’t feeling it. It was just Rogen doing his Rogen stuff. However, all my cynicism faded away when we met James Franco’s character, Saul, who in my mind is one of the funniest comedy characters in a long time. He’s your average stoner with a heart of gold, who reveals the only reason he got into dealing is to pay for his grandmother’s retirement home, all together now- Aww! The main surprise of the film is surely the fact that James Franco is a natural comedian as he’s mostly known for scowling his way through the “Spider-Man” trilogy as Harry Osborn. I’m sure Saul will be his springboard onto more comedic roles. I also really liked the character of Red (Danny McBride), an odd character with a Wile E. Coyote- like ability to withstand huge amount of punishment. The action is suprisingly good too, with an apartment fight, an accomplished car chase and a climactic shoot-out all thrown into the mix.
The main question of any comedy is “Is it funny?” and yes, it is. There are some great lines and scenes throughout. Some personal favourites include the scene in the woods and the fight at Red’s house, which is not only brilliantly choreographed but hilarious too. I also laughed an embarrassing amount at the scene where Dale and Saul are selling the titular drug to a bunch of schoolchildren -as politically incorrect as it is funny. However, there are some really unfunny moments too. One instance that springs to mind is the bit when Saul smashes a coffee pot into a hitman’s face. The following shot shows the hitman on the floor, with his hands covering his face, bleeding and sobbing. I’m sorry- but that’s not funny in the slightest. I don’t mind people getting hit upside the head with bongs or fire extinguishers, but when you show the consequences of them in a supposedly funny film, it takes you right out of it.
Overall, “Pineapple Express” is a good film. I do get the feeling (as I do with most comedies these days) that it’s not as funny as it should be, which is surely a big failing for a comedy film. Thing is, the film has enough funny lines, action sequences and Saul to make even the most miserable git crack a smile. So, I give it a good, solid three stars with a sidenote that you should add an extra star if you’re a stoner.