Reel Shorts | Pineapple Express

6 08 2008

Producer Judd Apatow’s comedic presence looms so large in Hollywood these days that almost ANY film that his talented crew of actor release they are sure to be successful. In their latest production, the weed crime drama, “Pineapple Express,” that streak remains intact.

There are only two things that matter in the life of process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) – getting high and staying that way. Rolling around with a car full of costumes to serve subpoenas, Denton constantly is blazin’ up while listening to talk radio. One day while restocking his supply, his weed man, Saul Silver (James Franco) hooks him up with the most potent sticky icky icky in his repertoire, “Pineapple Express.” Even Snoop Dogg would blush at the weed that Silver describes that is like “God’s Vagina!”

Later that evening on his way to serve someone, Denton witnesses a murder and in his haste to escape, he leaves his “express” roach on the scene. As (bad) luck would have it, the man he was serving, Ted Jones (Gary Cole) also happens to be the man who created the potent blend of bud and knows exactly who sold it and where to find the panicking Denton. With Jones hot on the trail, Silver grabs the “express” and he and Denton hit the road trying to stay alive.

The one constant in Apatow’s films is that they are always littered with amusing supporting players. In addition to Rosie Perez playing a corrupt cop working for Jones, the story gets much of its mileage from the performance of Danny McBride and star-on-the-rise Craig Robinson (“Knocked Up”).

As the middleman who buys from Jones and sells to Silver, Red (McBride) is about self-preservation. Once its clear that that option is in danger, the script has plenty of fun at his expense helping the two friends out. Robinson mines comic gold as “too-sensitive” hitman in pursuit of the Doobie Brothers.

With his girlfriend still in high school and no close friends, Denton is in love with Mary Jane, much to his detriment. Over the course of the film, he begins to bond then fall out with his “dope man” only to discover the real meaning of friendship – all the while getting and staying high.

After tackling teen angst, unwanted pregnancy and painful breakups, this buddy weed crime drama lacks the laugh-out funny moments of “Superbad” and “Forgetting Sarah Marshall” but thanks to the winning chemistry between former “Freaks and Geeks” cast mates and friends Rogan and Franco it largely succeeds. “They say don’t dip your pen in company ink, but I’m so glad I dipped in yours,” the burnt out Silver blurts out to Denton.

Recent weed comedies such as “Half Baked,” and “Friday” and “Dazed and Confused” show the lack of judgment and array of bad decisions one makes when under the influence. Modeled largely on Brad Pitt’s stoner character in “True Romance,” Franco channels Pitts sense of “mental vacancy” to create one of the year’s funniest performances.

While each of those films have aspects that were effective in their own rights, “Pineapple Express'” winning mixture of strong script, comedic timing and enough funny moments to keep the audience engage make this film this generation’s “Up in Smoke.” One of the drug games most sacred rules is “don’t get high on your own supply.” Thankfully for the audience, some rules are not only made to be broken – but laughed at as well.

Grade: B




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