Here’s the positive: David Gordon Green directs Pineapple Express.
As one of the best of the current crop of relatively unknown directors, Green (Snow Angels, All the Real Girls) is master of character development, high-level intensity and, when things slow down, at keeping low-level of tension percolating.
The negative: the idea of Pineapple Express belongs to writer/producer and Hollywood’s new comedy king Judd Apatow (The 40 Year Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Superbad). No doubt Green is brought in to add some maturity to one of Apatow’s movies of the week.
If that’s the case, it didn’t work.
Seth Rogan (Knocked Up) is Dale Denton, a process server with a problem. While serving his drug dealer’s drug dealer with a summons, Denton witnesses the man and a crooked cop kill a member of a rival family of dealers.
Panicked, Denton drops the joint he’s smoking and, by taste, the murderers know exactly what it is — a special blend of pot called Pineapple Express. Finding Denton’s dealer Saul Silver and — ultimately — Denton is a no-brainer.
That sends the two men on a flight for their lives.
Rogen, who helped pen the screenplay, is a talented and likable actor and comedian. He was clueless but charming in Knocked Up and teamed with Evan Goldberg as one of the two cops in Superbad Rogen’s comic skills made the movie super.
Pineapple Express casts him as a loser just south of 30. He has a high-school girlfriend, and his life is defined by lighting up.
What’s funny about that?
Two skilled character actors, Gary Cole and Rosie Perez, are wasted as the villains. Cole’s performance is empty, and Perez’s nasal screech and scrunched-up facial expressions make her look more like a menacing chipmunk than a serious threat to someone’s life.
C’mon, this is supposed to be comedy. Give these people something to do.
Mega-talented James Franco (Spider-Man 3) does Denton’s child-like dealer. He has Pineapple’s only snarfing, drool-running-down-your-chin, hurt-you kind of funny scene when the two guys steal a cop car.
His performance, and Green’s directing chops almost salvage the unsalvageable. They give Pineapple Express enough edge to give it a positive recommendation, if it’s your thing. Drug movies aren’t mine.
Got a problem? Get some ganja, light up and we laugh. Ha. Ha. Nothing funnier than a bozo with a bong. And to couch such crap in a comedy and pass these characters and their anti-social antics as cool is unconscionable. In the end, each character finds a new definition of the value of friendship.
That said, I find it impossible to find anything redeeming or funny about losers abusing drugs.
Mr. Movie rating: 2 stars
Rated R for mature themes, language, violence, drug use. It’s playing at the Carmike 12 and at the Fairchild 12.
Mr. Movie's scale
5 stars to 4 1/2 stars: Must see on the big screen
4 stars to 3 1/2 stars: Good film, see it if it's your type of movie
3 stars to 2 1/2 stars: Wait until it comes out on video.
2 stars to 1 star: Don't bother.
0 stars: Speaks for itself