Movie Review: Pineapple Express
By Brandon Scott
August 6, 2008
One of the few bright spots is Franco's Saul. Channeling Sean Penn's infamous Jeff Spicoli, he brings a sweet innocence to his role. He is a loveable loser longing for friendship who happens to find it in the comparative genius of his client Denton. There is a not-so-subtle undertone exposing the sensitive side of male friendship and while it is incredibly cheesy, it's one of the few things here that can be appreciated. Weed acts as a stand-in for sports and women as the most typical objects of male bonding.
A few others make an impression as well. Craig Robinson is a scene-stealer as hit man Matheson. I am afraid he will always be a sidekick, but he is an effective one, recalling a younger Bernie Mac before he got big, for better or worse. The much-hyped comedic chops of McBride (The Foot Fist Way) are a mixed bag. His Red, a middleman to Jones and Saul, serves up a few bullets as a tough as nails sidekick, but he shoots plenty of blanks as well.
Overall, the comedy is flat and nothing is tongue-in-cheek. As co-writer and lead actor, Apatow-disciple Rogen has to receive the brunt of the blame here. If you don't get a joke, it's forced upon you through explanation to understand. For example, when Dale loses a piece of his ear to gunfire, Saul explains to him that it looks bad but can turn out fine, "just look at Evander Holyfield, you can't even tell." With Rogen being a hot name in Hollywood, people want to work with Hollywood's "it" guy. They ought to be seriously re-thinking that thought process after seeing this debacle.
I am sure that the cast and crew had a blast making this film but this feels like a vanity project. They forgot to factor in audience participation in their end result. Don't get high off your own supply, fellas. The moviemakers wanted to make their homage to "stoner" movies, with the thought process being that you will have more fun watching this in an altered state. That may indeed be true, but it is also true of virtually any movie that attempts to elicit such absurd laughter, so it gets no points there. While they have succeeded at making said stoner film, it's flimsier than the wafts of smoke that need to be inhaled to attempt to appreciate it. Those that aren't high need not apply.
The usual suspects in the cast showing up in every movie that bares the Apatow signature is, at the very least, getting tiresome. The reaction that Express receives will go a long way towards deciding whether or not audiences feel the same way going forward. I suspect they'll be misguided and fall for its spell initially, but it will be best served finding a slower burn on DVD. This movie wants you to have fun, I just can't imagine why many moviegoers really will. 1 out of 4 stars.