The script for Pineapple Express, by Superbad writers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, takes a little bit of Harold and Kumar and mixes it with a little bit of Lethal Weapon to come up with a movie thatís both a drug comedy and a high-octane action flick. But it never comes together as a full on action comedy really, the movieís action scenes never quite seem to fit together with its comedy scenes. Thatís a problem. The most surprising thing here isnít the amount of weed smoked by the movieís leads, or the number of bad guys they take out, but how formulaic it all ends up feeling.
Hereís a perfect example of whatís wrong, for anyone whoís seen the Pineapple Express trailers. Theyíre great, and if you remember anything about them you probably remember the music, a song called ďPaper PlanesĒ by the group M.I.A. The song is used so effectively in the trailer that itís become almost a signature for the filmís marketing, it drives the pacing of the trailer, itís the perfect soundtrack for an edgy, action-stoner movie. Well the song is not in the movieÖ or if it is, itís so underutilized I simply didnít notice it. Alright, understandable. More often than not, the music used in a trailer is not the same music used in the film. So what is in the soundtrack? Nothing. Itís a dead end. Oh thereís some random, banal background music in most of the scenes, but nothing memorable. Looking at the tunes actually on the Pineapple Express soundtrack for sale on Amazon.com, it looks good in theory, but in context I donít remember hearing even one of those songs. The music plays no role in driving the story, they might as well have used elevator music. This is a picture that deserves cool music, it needs cool music front and center. It doesnít get it. In fact it doesnít get anything. Itís like the soundtrack doesnít even try. All the pizzazz and style of the trailer is only for the trailer. All the sharp cuts, the trendy music, the quick comedy jabsÖ in the film itís watered down and slowed down to fit into a fairly standard three act formula. Whatever it was that made the trailers so unique and interesting is completely absent in the film. Whatís galling about that is it would have been so easy to add, at the least, that musical layer into the movie. Just hit the internet and throw in a few cool indie bands. Or maybe time the usage of the ones they have better. Pineapple Express doesnít make the effort.
Iím not saying there arenít laughs in Pineapple Express, there are. Itís just not as fresh and exciting as youíd hope for from a movie with an Apatow, Rogen, Franco pedigree. Itís disappointing how many of the jokes youíll see coming, even though you may chuckle anyway. Itís a waste too, since Rogen and Franco really are the perfect leads for this type of film. They should be able to go toe to toe with the likes of Harold & Kumar, but the script leaves them hanging at second best. It feels like thereís another level the movie could have gone to, but for some reason didnít.
What Pineapple Express does deliver is a fairly simple movie about two stoners on the run from the mob. Seth Rogen is a process server named Dale who accidentally witnesses a murder. Scared, for some inexplicable reason he runs to the house of his pot dealer Saul (James Franco). The mob comes looking for both of them, and they take off. We follow them around as they try to figure out whatís going on. Sometimes that means engaging in car chases, sometimes it means hanging out in the woods. Rogen and Franco have instant chemistry together, probably fueled by their long personal and professional relationship. Special praise should be given to Franco, for finally abandoning the pretty boy image heís been cultivating in his more recent films in favor of playing a grungy, disgusting loser. The male model thing never really suited him anyway.
They run from the bad guys, they shoot bad guys, they smoke some weed and then call it a day. In there are a few funny scenes and some great third-banana work by Danny McBride, but probably nothing youíll remember very far beyond the theater. A weird sub-plot involving Rogen dating a high-school girl never seems to go anywhere, though it does eventually pay off in one funny phone call. The finaleÖ the best I can say for it is that itís full of fire. Literal fire, not energetic, metaphysical fire. For most of the movie things are carried along by the interplay between Rogen and Franco, but since this is supposed to be an action movie it has to end with a big, explosion filled shoot-out. It does, and unfortunately it does so at the expense of being funny. Maybe it was that finale which did me in. The explosions were nice, but the gunplay is intentionally hokey in some weird, misplaced attempt to turn into a satire that never truly works. It's never easy to satirize other action movies while at the same time being an action movie yourself. Itís like trying to scratch your head and rub your stomach, except not nearly as funny. Pineapple Express lacks the coordination to pull it off.
I enjoyed Pineapple Express for what it was, itís just not very much. The cast delivers, Greenís direction is adequate, and the script is, I suppose, adequate. Adequate. Thatís a pretty good description for whatís going on here. Itís neither a great comedy or a great action movie, itís an adequate version of both. Maybe you need to be high. Somebody pass me a blunt.
Reviewed By: Josh Tyler