Monday 30 December 2019

Movie Review: Pineapple Express (2008)

A stoner buddy comedy, Pineapple Express is an uneven effort, with lightweight comedy, vulgarity and over-the-top bloody action uncomfortably rubbing shoulders.

Stoner Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) has a job serving court-issued subpoenas, but spends his time smoking pot he buys from dealer Saul Silver (James Franco) and hovering around his much younger girlfriend Angie (Amber Heard), who is still in high school. Dale witnesses a murder at the home of Ted Jones (Gary Cole), the master supplier of drugs in the area. Complicating matters is corrupt police officer Carol Brazier (Rosie Perez), who is on Ted's payroll.

Hitmen Budlofsky (Kevin Corrigan) and Matheson (Craig Robinson) are soon attempting to eliminate Dale and Saul. They seek refuge with drug dealer Red (Danny McBride), but he gets his supply from Ted, and so has divided loyalties. Dale and Saul have to save their lives and their friendship while finding a way to stop Ted's evil plot.

Pineapple Express opens with a black and white prelude set in 1937 at a secret facility, featuring the US military trialing a marijuana joint on a test subject and concluding pot should absolutely be illegal.

The rest of the film is a humorous call to decriminalization, the screenplay by Rogen and Evan Goldberg portraying pot users and dealers as laidback and harmless bros. Meanwhile the criminal underworld profits, the supply controlled by evildoers like Ted Jones who is not only corrupting enforcement officers but also engaged in a violent turf battle with a heavily armed asian gang.

Beyond its basic message Pineapple Express is stuck in a field of mediocrity. The plot is a bedraggled affair mainly serving to stitch together outlandish low-brow humour. Many scenes drag on well beyond what is necessary, director David Gordon Green prolonging the flimsy film to 112 minutes. The final gunfight battle is particularly endless, and earlier Dale's first visit to Saul's apartment also overstays its welcome, with a lot of their dialogue carrying the whiff of improv.

The better sequences feature a three-way brawl at Red's apartment, a most awkward intrusion onto a family dinner at girlfriend Angie's house, and a not-bad manic car chase.

Pineapple Express serves up a few sweet laughs, but has trouble cutting through all the surface roughness.

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