Pineapple Express - Movie Review
There are two different kinds of smoker comedies, and neither one are meant to make you think. These kind of movies are meant to be watched in a smokey haze where even the slightest pause or movement elicits a confused chuckle or a deep approving nod. The Pineapple Express, on it's surface, is just that kind of movie, but beneath that there is something inherently different. The film manages to, at times, transcend beyond it's own expectations, before settling back into pure entertainment. Both are treats to enjoy.
The film has no shortage of gross-out sight gags, including but not limited to mutilated ears, shotgunned feet, and fork stabbing. This comes along with a verbose vocabulary of curse-words and sexual terminology usually reserved for the darkest depths of Urban Dictionary. I only say all of this because The Pineapple Express is really the most wholesome smoker comedy I have seen. True, that might not be saying much. But despite Seth Rogen's confused and absurdly vivid talk with his girlfriend concerning the two "and a half" girls he once slept with, there is an emotional need being seeked out by these characters.
Dale (Rogen) wants his relationship to work out, even if his girlfriend still has to deal with homeroom and flirting jocks. Dale's pot dealer Saul (James Franco) spends his time living in an isolated apartment where his only company is two televisions running simultaneously along with a sound system. They both need to make friends, become buddies, and bond in the way that males usually do. When I say that, I mean they play leapfrog in the middle of the woods while high. The opportunity for all this bonding arrives when Dale witnesses a murder while delivering a court-order to Saul's pot supplier. Things take a turn for the worse, and in their constantly high stupor they often react in exactly the wrong way, sometimes for the better.
James Franco provides a performance so ethereal in it's scope that his character of Saul not only becomes the highlight of movie, but is deserving of a character analysis far longer than this review. With every second of screen time it is not only evident that Saul is completely high, but it is clear he has spent so long in this perpetual mental state that the Saul who once existed is now hovering in the back corner of his mind. He only mentally comprehends the last few words of every strand of dialog, and if you watch him closely you might be able to understand the world his mind functions in.
Despite popular opinion, this film was not directed by Judd Apatow. It was directed by David Gordon Green, the independent director of George Washington and Undertow. His roots are hidden in this film, yet noticeable. The camera provides a unique glimpse of the unnamed Californian urban setting, occasionally settling on the sight of children playing, given that James Franco is there as well crying while eating on a swing set. It can often be quite beautiful, if the viewer cares to see it that way. Fact remains, this movie has one of the funniest and most satisfying cop chases in recent history.
The film isn't without it's many problems. For every scene with a hint of brilliance there is another equally pointless. There will be long strands of dialogue without meaning, some inherently funny for that very purpose, others a grinding test of patience. There are morally questionable actions, such as underage drug selling for example, which may rub some the wrong way. Again, my problem may be that I did not see it while high, but a good movie should be a good movie no matter what mental state you're in.
I really liked Pineapple Express. It meets the expectations of every viewer, no matter how low or high they may be. It is what it is, and if you look carefully, you might find a little bit more. I found more than less.