Before we begin, let’s just get this out of the way: I was not high when I went to see Pineapple Express Tuesday night. And yet, that minor detail did not deter my overall appreciation for the movie once the credits rolled.
Well—I’m getting ahead of myself. First things first: the theater was sold out, and my friend and I got there an hour and a half early to ensure we got decent seats. To our surprise, we were the first people there. When the audience did start trickling in thirty minutes before show time, it became clear who we would be watching the movie with: A plethora of indolent teenagers, blazed out of their minds.
They timidly stepped down the aisle with eyes half closed, three by three, all quietly snickering to themselves and looking for places to sit. The smell of marijuana seemed to follow them. When they did find their seats, they, each of them, enjoyed introverted congratulatory chuckles and leaned over to their nearest friend and whispered, “This was such a good idea…!” But hey, I’m not complaining. Turns out that being surrounded by potheads ensures at least three or four laughs for every joke you make.
The movie began and we were taken to the mythical land of cinema glimpsed only on silver screens, where Seth Rogen portrays a pothead process server named Dale Denton. Dale seems pretty content to enjoy his teenage girlfriend and the weed he buys from his dealer, Saul Silver (James Franco). Things take a turn for Dale when he witnesses a gangster (Gary Cole) murder a hitman. When Dale sees this, he panics and tosses a roach full of the rarest weed known to man out of the window of his car and drives off. The gangster finds the roach and is able to identify the weed by its potency, and thus the dealer who provided it. Dale, still panicking, drives to Saul’s apartment, and the two become fugitives from police and mob alike.
The film is part-buddy-comedy, part-action-adventure and all about stoner culture. It’s true that many of the laughs are derived from situations the average straightedge person will not understand, but show me a person who does not enjoy the antics of Saul Silver and I will show you a person who does not enjoy laughter. Picking up where Brad Pitt left off in True Romance, James Franco plays Floyd I mean Saul as a person walking through life in an all-consuming, pot-induced stupor. “Freaks and Geeks” aside, I’m not the biggest fan of James Franco, but here he delivers a genuinely entertaining comedic performance.
Not much characterization goes on here; I’d love to tell you about the complex arc that Dale has, but it’s really more of a triangle with simple problem/ resolution toward the end. Likewise, Saul is too burnt out to have a character arc—but does he really need one? The film hinges upon the comedy provided by the relationship between dealer-and-buyer, which tenderly evolves into a relationship between dealer-and-friend. In fact, Pineapple Express only fails when it loses sight of this bond—in the action finale, things become disorganized and too many sub-plots are conveniently wrapped up. However, this sore spot did not dilute the experience overall: I had a great time watching Pineapple Express.
The film is an enjoyable farce, with comically over-the-top action scenes, a laugh-out-loud sense of humor, Pineapple Express is a film that wins over most of the audience and demands at least a rental.