While movies about getting high and smoking weed can become quite tiresome very quickly, Pineapple Express manages to avoid most of the pitfalls that come with such a movie and, instead, we’re treated to a solid callback to the 1980’s buddy action-comedy. Another film produced under Judd Apatow and his crew, Pineapple Express is easily their most edgiest to date. With plenty of action, big laughs, and some of the best buddy chemistry since the best 1980’s buddy pictures, Pineapple Express is a blast from start to finish. Sure, it has a few slow moments and manages to fall into the usual action-comedy pitfalls a handful of times, but all of that is forgiven when Franco takes the screen. Now, let’s get the movie synopsis out of the way and dive right into Pineapple Express!
Lazy stoner Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) has only one reason to visit his equally lazy dealer Saul Silver (James Franco): to purchase weed, specifically, a rare new strain called Pineapple Express. But when Dale becomes the only witness to a murder by a crooked cop (Rosie Perez) and the city’s most dangerous drug lord (Gary Cole), he panics and dumps his roach of Pineapple Express at the scene. Dale now has another reason to visit Saul: to find out if the weed is so rare that it can be traced back to him. And it is. As Dale and Saul run for their lives, they quickly discover that they’re not suffering from weed-fueled paranoia; incredibly, the bad guys really are hot on their trail and trying to figure out the fastest way to kill them both. All aboard the Pineapple Express. Pineapple Express is directed by David Gordon Green (All the Real Girls), with a screenplay by Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg from a story by Judd Apatow and Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg. Judd Apatow and Shauna Robertson produce.
What drives this movie is the relationship between Denton and Silver, with everything else coming up in second. Their relationship, and the exploits that result of it, really makes the movie an absurd yet believable romp. It’s a stoner movie that soars higher than it should. In fact, Rogen and Franco have such great chemistry that you actually start to care what happens to these two characters. They specifically shine in some of the quieter scenes. One scene in particular, with Franco crying while eating a sandwich on a swing-set, is both heartbreaking and absolutely hilarious. The visual is an absolutely gut buster, but the impact of the scene isn’t lost on the viewer. Naturally, when the characters aren’t taking a break, they’re trying to evade certain death at the hands of two thugs. Naturally, given their usually inebriated state, things usually don’t go as planned, and the simplest of tasks become nearly impossible to pull off.
I have to admit that Franco is a true comedic breakthrough here. Many fans will recognize him from the Spider-Man movie trilogy, but here, he unleashes his full comedic potential to amazing results. The example in the previous paragraph is just a taste of some of the hilarious work Franco does in this movie. He really runs with the role, making this character completely his own, adding a surprising amount of depth to what is usually a one-note role.
The story isn’t really that of much consequence, acting no more than as a vehicle to get Rogen and Franco from one place to the next. And, due to this, the script can feel a bit uneven and scattershot at times, in terms of both the tone and overall pace of the movie. Thankfully, the directing is able to keep the movie in line, for the most part, whether it’s opening the movie with a very inspired bit of satire or the inevitable chase scenes that follow during the second act. All of this converges in the final act when everyone involved just seems to shrug their shoulders and swings for the fences. Turning into a parody of action-comedies, the movie plays along with the conventions of the genre and maybes to get a few good winks and nudges in at the same time. Sure, the parody isn’t handled as well as it could have been, but last-minute saves and impossible feats of strength are the norm here and are riffed on with great effect. It’s not of Hot Fuzz caliber, but it’s still handled really well. And yes, it sounds like I’m unimpressed with the script, but I am. The script, while a bit uneven, really does help the movie transcend past the usual pot-humor that could sink a movie like this. It’s a smart script, even if it is a little flawed, with some surprising quiet and reflective moments.
To be honest, there’s not really much I feel I can say about this movie. Maybe this provides more proof of my obvious lack of talent when it comes to writing and reviewing, but I feel that this movie offers so little when it comes to negative aspects. It’s by no means the best comedy, or movie, of the year, but it’s still a solid and entertainment piece. I could go on, citing specific gags and such, but some scenes are so great that they’re better off left unspoiled. Just be warned that the trailer for Pineapple Express doesn’t ruin the best gags of the film. Aside from the hilarious scene featuring Franco I mentioned above, there’s a pile of great gags and one-liners that viewers will find themselves quoting after seeing the movie. Plus, DannyMcBride, in a small role, does his best comedic work since Hot Rod.
Pineapple Express manages to miss most of the generic pitfalls that comes with the buddy action-comedy genre, coming out on top with one of the more memorable comedies of the year. It’s not perfect, but I guarantee that the movie’s infectious attitude should win over the majority of the audience, especially with someone like Franco taking the lead here. Franco and Rogen are a perfect pairing with great chemistry and the ability to bounce off either other without the dialogue feeling forced or fake at any time. Transcending the usually tiring stoner movie pratfalls, Pineapple Express comes Highly Recommended, taking what sounds like a tired concept and gives it a shot in the arm, playfully riffing on the clichés of the 1980’s action comedies and coming up with a movie that’s truly enjoyable and worth spending a little time with. Believe me, there’s a lot worse you could do with your time than giving Pineapple Express a spin.
As what appears to be the norm these days for the studio, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has released Pineapple Express in a myriad of different releases. Pineapple Express is being released an unrated Blu-ray version, unrated two-disc DVD and unrated single-disc DVD versions, a rated single-disc DVD release, and on UMD (for the PSP). Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has provided the single-disc unrated edition to review.
The audio and video transfers for this title, as you can expect, are really good. They’re not mind-blowing or even reference material, but with little to no errors to be found, Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has done Pineapple Express justice, I find. The colors are bright, but not perfect. The audio is clear and distinct, but not crystal clear. It is a few marks below a perfect grade, but still, the transfers for both titles are as adequate as can be for this type of release. The bonus features for the unrated single-disc release are, as you could expect, somewhat slim compared to the other releases. Bonus content for this release includes a commentary with members of the cast and crew, some deleted & extended scenes, the standard “The Making of Pineapple Express featurette, a gag reel, and an enormous amount of trailers. Yes, that’s a good amount of extras for a single-disc release, especially if you’re interested in just the movie and maybe dipping your toes just slightly into the bonus features. But, for those interested in learning more about the production of the movie may be better off picking up the unrated two-disc DVD release or just picking up the Blu-ray release.
Overall, Pineapple Express makes for a fine purchase or rental, but if you’re looking for more information on how this movie came about, you may want to pick up one of the more elaborate releases for this movie. The one-disc release does a fine job in presenting the movie and giving the viewer some pretty interesting extras, but if you want more then you’re better off buying the two-disc release of Pineapple Express or picking up the Blu-ray high definition release. I’m sure plenty of people will be surprised by Pineapple Express, especially those who decide to give it a chance. It’s strong, quirky, and has strong characters to help overcome what can be a bit of a schizophrenic story. Toss on some great actions sequence, some well-deserved ribbing directed toward action-comedies of the past, and two very likeable leads, and you have a great way to kill some time. Pineapple Express comes Highly Recommended, though fans may want to seek out the two-disc unrated DVD or Blu-ray release as opposed to this single-disc DVD.
Pineapple Express hits DVD and Blu-ray on January 6th, 2009.