Let me start off by saying that I’m not a big fan of stoner movies. For that matter, I’m not a big fan of stoners, period. Does that make me an old fart? Perhaps, but at least you know where I’m coming from.
Sure, some of the films like Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Dude, Where’s My Car are funny. But for every one of those, there seems to be a dozen Dazed and Confused. (I do realize I’m killing a sacred cow with that last comment, but that film bored the crap out of me.)
So, the fact that I thought Pineapple Express was merely so-so should actually come off as a glowing review. But trust me… this is not a glowing review.
The film, which was conceived as a “stoner action film” by Seth Rogan and Judd Apatow, comes off exactly as such. Think of it as Lethal Weapon if Martin and Riggs dealt pot from their dingy apartment instead of working for the LAPD. If you like this sort of thing, you’ll have a ball watching this flick.
Seth Rogan plays Dale Denton, a process server who buys his dope from Saul Silver (James Franco). After getting a special early taste of his new weed called Pineapple Express (dubbed “the dopest dope I ever smoked” by Saul), Dale heads out to serve a subpoena to a guy named Ted Jones (Gary Cole). While waiting outside his house, Dale witnesses Ted shoot a guy in his house. Dale panics and races back to Saul’s place.
Ted is able to track Dale to Saul by finding his discarded Pineapple Express roach. This puts Dale and Saul on the run as they try to stay alive, evade the police, impress Dale’s teenage girlfriend (Amber Heard) and take down Ted’s drug ring.
Maybe something was lost on me with this film because I don’t smoke marijuana. Maybe if I did, things would have been funnier. A lot of the humor (including numerous coughing fits, running and screaming, moments where characters are distracted from danger by fake sword fighting, and inane conversations in the middle of the woods) seems to have a “you had to be there” feel to it. And since I didn’t spend my younger day (or older ones, for that matter) getting high with my buddies, I was left out.
There are some funny moment. And for as doughy and unappealing as Seth Rogan appears to be, the guy has a hell of a lot of charisma on screen. Even though he was a borderline child-molester, he still comes off charming.
Likewise, James Franco comes off as likeable as he ever has on the silver screen in recent years. His dim-witted dope dealer persona is irresistibly likeable and even tender at times. However, things aren’t sugar coated in this film. The character of Saul is as aimless and pathetic as some of the dope heads I’ve ran into over the years.
While Pineapple Express has a couple preachy moments about how marijuana should be legal, and a completely misplaced and awkward moment blaming dope for the characters’ problems, it hardly portrays drugs in a positive light.
I did laugh several times throughout the film, but too often the film bogged down in its own irreverence that only the filmmakers seemed to get. The movie could have done with a harsh edit, trimming at least a half hour from its bloated running time. This is no truer than at the end when the tag of the film spends about five minutes recapping everything that happened earlier… like a group of guys stoned in a dorm room might recount the previous few hours of smoking weed.
THE UPSIDE: Funny enough, if you really like stoner movies.
THE DOWNSIDE: Too long and plodding at times.
ON THE SIDE: Apparently James Franco’s wardrobe was inspired by Woody Harrelson’s normal attire. Go figure.