Movie News & Reviews

'Pineapple Express' comes off as super good drug movie

Considering the drug war itself is a ludicrous, destructive, racistcampaign of tragedy and squandered resources, there haven't been manyfunny drug movies.

That makes no sense. Tragedy is comedy. For instance, I'mtotally heartbroken right now, and it sure feels like the whole worldis laughing at me. Ever fallen down in public? I bet that got a biglaugh, especially if you were bleeding, or a limb ended up stickingout at a wrong angle.

Maybe that's the problem — if drugs make you feel good (and I'vecertainly never heard of a downside to surging your body withpowerful, brain-altering chemicals), then you end up with nothingfunny to do or say. Nobody's interested in why gas stations alldecided 44 ounces was going to be their biggest pop, or how much thatone guy on the TV looks like that other guy on the TV. Keep your crazymankind-loving thoughts to yourself.

Yet Pineapple Express, a drug-heavy movie if not an out-and-outdrug movie, is hilarious. More proof you don't need drugs for life tobe a confusing and terrifying trip.

Seth Rogen's living the dream: he gets to play dress-up for his job asa process server, he's in a serious relationship with a foxy18-year-old, and, thanks to well-connected dealer James Franco, hesmokes only the finest.

All that shatters like a dropped bong when Rogen witnesses a cop anddrug lord Gary Cole execute a man in cold blood. Rogen flees thescene, dropping a joint rolled with Pineapple Express — the newest,baddest weed in town, which Cole quickly traces back to Franco.

Franco and Rogen go on the lam. Woefully outmatched by the cops andthugs on their tail, it's only a matter of time until they'll betossed in cuffs or clipped through the brainpan.

The action-comedy is a schizophrenic genre — wait, are we supposed tobe laughing when that guy's foot got shot off? — but David GordonGreen, director of a lot of well-regarded indies I've never heard of,builds an absurdist atmosphere right off the bat. With thatestablished, Pineapple Express is free to follow any number ofusually funny rabbit trails.

"Usually" is the key. It's a loose, sloppy, playful film. Like anexcitable, friendly dog, it's always charged up, happy to see you, andloves doing unexpected things like chewing up one of your roommate'sshoes and then spitting that shoe up into the unchewed shoe so whenyour roommate tries to put it on he ends up wearing a footload of dogslobber. But when that dog jumps on your bed for the 80th time, orlicks your foot under the table when there could not possibly havebeen a dog there, you're left with the sudden and unacceptable urge tolunge forward and sink your teeth into puppy's cute neck.

Actually, I'd much rather bite out a dog's throat than stay mad atPineapple Express. If its weirdo gags misfire now and then,they're more than compensated by Franco's affable burner or a scriptloaded with strange and hilarious characters.

Apatow Productions are rightly lauded for their improv-heavy humor,and Green is apparently known for unique touches of his own, but thescript, written by Rogen and Evan Goldberg, deserves a lot of credit.They interject life into side characters who usually have none. A deepand talented supporting cast helps.

Oh right, and there's action, too! Hysterical, incompetent, chaoticaction where sweaty stoners try to stay alive in the midst of a drugwar every bit as outlandish as the Yakuza vs. mob battle on thepretzel wagon Simpsons episode.

It's a good mix. With a movie like this — funny, eccentric, mildlyemotional, always taking the route you don't expect, but also a littlebloated and rough — it can be like getting into a Bizarro Relationship.Instead of being drawn in by a pretty face and then having your ownface stamped in an inch at a time as you get to know them better, aproperly offbeat movie (of which The Big Lebowski is thereigning champeen) grows on you the more time you have to appreciateits singular qualities.

I'm thinking Pineapple Express is going to run that way. Myfirst impression is it's good, often great. That's what I'll roll withhere. My suspicion, though, is it's going to end up a minor classic.

Grade: B+