The last few weeks have been dominated with comedies and the train just keeps moving with next week’s “Tropic Thunder” and “The House Bunny” right after that. With these two big movies coming up some of the smaller comedies might not hang on, one of them being “Pineapple Express.” I’m not saying that the latest film from Seth Rogen is a small film, just that it hasn’t had the massive flush of people like recent comedies and while the ads are a bit misleading there’s still something to love about this foray into the “bromance” comedies.
Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a process server who spends his free time getting high or visiting his teenage girlfriend Angie (Amber Heard). When he witnesses a murder he decides to turn to his pot dealer Saul (James Franco) to help him. Thus kicks off their journey to find out about the murder and prevent themselves from being killed.
I have to admit I love a good stoner comedy. While I myself am not the target demographic these movies just have great humor and “Pineapple Express” is no different. The humor tends to be very subtle and dialogue driven with a heavy dose of physical humor. The relationship between Saul and Dale is also rife for comedy gold and there are plenty of one-liners to keep you quoting until fall. The great thing about this movie is that there isn’t a tendancy to rely on bathroom or gross-out humor like most comedies and I loved that. “Pineapple Express,” at its core is a buddy/action film which is different then how most stoner movies come across but with this premise you get the humor as well as a ton of violence and action. The film is R-rated so there’s no shying away from things being shot or the “F” word being thrown around.
Where “Pineapple Express” loses a few points is in the marketing. The crowd I went with, as well as myself, assumed we would be seeing a stoner film with an action subplot a la “Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle.” What ends up making the core of “Pineapple Express” is a buddy action film where the characters are high. The stoner lifestyle is a very small part of the movie; the main core comes from the friendship of Dale and Saul as they try to escape drug dealers. This didn’t ruin the movie for me but I was a bit angered that the ads were so misleading. The movie does tend to run a bit long 111 minutes, the big action sequence at the end could have been trimmed; I also thought the first half of the film was a bit short on laughs while the second half was utterly hilarious. There are also a few loose ends with the ending like why the bad guys were so quick to assume Denton was an assassin and I would have enjoyed some more backstory on the drug war that is being referenced. There is also an opening on a military base in the thirties that just didn’t flow with the rest of the movie and seemed to only serve as a pointless location at the end.
The acting in this was incredibly surprising for me because some unlikely actors turn in great performances that I wasn’t expecting. Seth Rogen does amazing with comedy and this is no different from his other roles but here he’s really playing the straight man unlike previous films where he’s the kooky friend. He also does a huge action piece at the end that I think is meant to show all the fans of the Green Lantern that he can play a physically demanding character. The scene stealer of the movie is James Franco as the pot dealer Saul. He was hands down my favorite character and it made me a fan of his. He’s so laid back and his one-liners are priceless, I haven’t seen Franco do much comedy like this and I hope he plays some more characters like that. Danny McBride is also hilarious as the man with a death wish Red. I’ve never seen any of McBride’s work but he was amazing and I hope to see more of him in films. Other than that the other characters are severely marginalized. Gary Cole and Rosie Perez are wasted as the villains Ted and Carol. I loved Cole in “Talladega Nights” and was sad he didn’t get any big comedic scenes. Perez also didn’t seem right for the character, same with Kevin Corrigan who plays one of the henchmen. Either way their roles are too small to matter.
“Pineapple Express” is an interesting and hilarious buddy movie, just don’t expect a true stoner film. I found it right up there in terms of humor with “Stepbrothers” and give it a 4/5.