August 9th, 2008

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (2008) ***

I’ll admit that I’ve never been one for stoner comedies mostly cuz I’ve never smoked weed and tend not to associate myself with anyone who does.  Since I don’t do the doobage, I really don’t know what it’s like to smoke a joint but from all the movies I’ve seen, it just makes you giggle, cough and generally act like an idiot.  Back in the days of people like Abbott and Costello and Laurel and Hardy, they didn’t NEED marijuana to make them act like an idiot, they just were.  I guess smoking pot gives the characters a MOTIVATION to act like an idiot. 

 

There hasn’t really been a great weed comedy.  The closest you can argue is Fast Times, but marijuana was a small part of the film and only one of the major characters was a pothead.  The Cheech and Chong movies were OK and while Half Baked had its moments, it wasn’t exactly a classic.  To me, Reefer Madness is still the best comedy about the devil’s weed, even if all the comedy IS unintentional.  Pineapple Express is probably a close second but its strengths don’t exactly lie in the dope department. 

 

Pineapple Express tells the story of a pot smoking process server named Dale (Seth Rogan, who also co-wrote) who witnesses a murder and is chased by the killer (Gary Cole).  Along the way, he gets his laid back drug dealer Saul (James Franco) mixed up in the fracas, and the duo goes on the lam.  At this point the film switches gears and becomes a thoroughly entertaining action flick as the two stoners have to shoot hitmen and bad guys to stay alive, while only occasionally toking up on the titular ganja. 

 

It’s basically Harold and Kumar Meet Lethal Weapon. 

 

Rogen and Franco have an easy on screen chemistry (which makes sense since they were both on Freaks and Geeks together back in the day) and their camaraderie is the best thing about the movie.  Yeah, the movie has a bunch of those obligatory clichés usually found in these Judd Apatow comedies (the best friends have a fight so they aren’t best friends anymore but then predictably make up and become best friends again), but the lovey dovey shit is kept to it’s barest minimum.  Although I enjoyed the more action oriented second half to the overly weed-centric first 45 minutes, I’ll admit that a lot it was actually laugh out loud funny, which is the true litmus test to whether or not a comedy is worthwhile. 

 

Franco gets the best line of the movie when told to go down into a big, dark cellar:  “What’s down there, the Rancor?”