Saturday, August 9, 2008
Pineapple Express (2008, David Gordon Green)
One thing that bugs me about most "pot movies" is how cartoonish the main characters tend to be. It's strange- despite these movies' appeal to a pot-friendly crowd, most of the protagonists come off as wacky stereotypes who get bug-eyed and nuts whenever they toke up, not unlike the players in Reefer Madness and its ilk. One of the most refreshing aspects of Pineapple Express was that, for all the craziness that happens, Dale (Seth Rogen) and Saul (James Franco) mostly come off as a couple of regular guys who enjoy smoking marijuana. This helps the movie avoid many of the standard pitfalls of the genre, in particular the semi-obligatory "hallucination" scene in which the imagery gets psychedelic and the music blares, just so you know how spaced-out the pot-smokers are feeling. Instead of visualizing the experience of being perpetually stoned, Green and his stars give the movie a laid-back vibe befitting the protagonists' chemically-facilitated shared mental state. They still get carried along by the plot, but at their pace, rather than the tricked-up pace of a movie that aches to get them from one misadventure to the next. The misadventures that do befall them are sort of uneven, but when the movie is on, it's ON. I'm thinking in particular of an uproarious fight scene involving Rogen, Franco, and perpetual scene stealer Danny McBride, in which none of the participants looks like they've thrown (or taken) too many blows in their lifetimes. Naturally, this makes for some priceless comedy, especially when the fighters begin looking for random objects to hurl at each other. I also liked the fact that the movie actually took time to explore the dynamic between the two hit men (Kevin Corrigan and a hilarious Craig Robinson) who are tailing the heroes. I'm sort of conflicted about the movie's final action sequence, which for all intensive purposes places the heroic trio in the middle of a low-rent 80s-style action movie. It's funny to watch the clearly overmatched characters try to fight off the more experienced villains, but it gets sort of numbing after a while. Still, in spite of its flaws (which are many), there's plenty of fun to be had at Pineapple Express, and the laughs that come courtesy of Rogen, Franco, Robinson, and especially McBride make this well worth your time. Rating: 6 out of 10.
Posted by Paul C. at 1:15 AM