I’ve never been a huge fan of “stoner comedies,” with the exception of Dazed and Confused (which was really more about high school than getting stoned) and to a lesser extent, Harold and Kumar. In other words, movies like Half Baked, How High and even the Cheech and Chong series never really tickled me.
Perhaps it’s because I’m not into drugs. Maybe these films just rely too much on the thought that audiences think just because somebody’s high means they’re funny.
That said, Pineapple Express is definitely about drugs, but where this movie succeeds that the others didn’t is the writing. Sure, these guys are high throughout most of the film, but the actual dialogue is hilarious … not just the way it’s delivered (or dealed).
Then again, maybe I’m just a fan of anything from the Seth Rogen/Judd Apatow genre these days. Knocked Up, 40-year-old Virgin and Superbad have become favorites of mine, and Pineapple Express (while not exactly on the level of Superbad or Knocked Up) fits right in and holds its own.
I won’t bore you with plot details, except to say it’s about Dale Denton (Rogen) and his dealer Saul (scene-stealer James Franco, who makes you completely forget his mediocre performance in the Spider-Man movies) and their attempt to not get murdered after Dale witnesses and murder by a crooked cop (Rosie Perez) and a drug kingpin (Gary Cole … the dad from the Brady movies).
Hilarity ensues, of course, and the movie is at its funniest when Rogen and Franco are given screen time and told to just be funny. Their night in the woods, a visit to Red’s house, breakfast at a diner and the time spent in Saul’s apartment are the best scenes, by far, because they seem ad-libbed and real. And if you’re the kind of guy or gal who loves repeating classic lines from great comedies, you’ll have a tough time trying to choose which one to beat to death.
The plot is the only thing that bogs the movie down. I thought the exploding-shootout-ninja ending was overdone and too much, and the violence is more off-putting than funny at times (although I never thought I’d laugh so much after watching a foot be blown away by a shotgun … but that was a rare laugh at the violence).
Pineapple Express, though, did exactly what I needed it to do … it made me laugh after a tough week of work. It won’t go down as the greatest comedy ever made in the history of the world … but it’s better than I thought it would be.
Grade: 7 (out of 10)