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Review: Pineapple Express (2008)

Pineapple Express (2008) 

Directed by: David Gordon Green

Premise: A stoner (Seth Rogan) and his drug dealer (James Franco) find themselves on the run from a local drug lord after one of them witnesses a murder.

What Works: The best thing about Pineapple Express is James Franco. The actor usually plays clean cut, emotional characters but in Pineapple Express Franco plays a character more like Spicoli of Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Franco’s stoner routine is no different from a lot of other drug using characters but the fact that it comes from Franco makes it a lot funnier.

What Doesn’t: Pineapple Express is not intended to be a smart or insightful film; it’s only trying to be a bit of diversionary entertainment, but even at that it fails. This movie is just not funny. Seth Rogan is a likeable, if limited, actor and his performances in films like Knocked Up work because he is able to combine his slacker persona with a genuine likeability. But the script for Pineapple Express does not give Rogan or Franco any moments where they can that can strike up pathos appeal with the audience. Instead they go from being obnoxious and high to obnoxious and sober with little to differentiate the two except fluctuations in the glazed look in their eyes. Pineapple Express also has serious problems in its tone. The movie randomly switches between its attempts to be a stoner comedy and a violent buddies-in-action film. Violence, even the kind of graphic violence Pineapple Express uses, can work in comedies, such as the cartoonish look of the Rambo sequence in UHF or the absurd comedy of errors in Very Bad Things and Fargo. But this film cannot synthesize the Lethal Weapon-style violence with its Cheech and Chong humor. The result is an unpleasant and jarring experience for the audience.

Bottom Line: Watching Pineapple Express is like channel surfing between Harold and Kumar Go to White Castle and Raw Deal and it makes about as much sense. It’s nice to see James Franco display his comedic talents, but he was funnier in his cameo in Knocked Up than this lame material allows.

Episode: #200 (August 17, 2008)