Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pineapple Express


Dear Potheads,

Please don’t attack me with your bongs, spray me with Visine, or throw ultimate Frisbees at me. I didn’t love this movie. Although I laughed and was mildly entertained, I just didn’t get it. And the most frustrating part was how good it could’ve been.

The Intro

Here’s a brief summary which I stole from imdb.com: A stoner (Seth Rogen) and his dealer (James Franco) are forced to go on the run from the police after the pothead witnesses a cop commit a murder.

I really enjoyed the first ten minutes of the movie. You may think you’re in the wrong theatre because it’s in black and white, but don’t worry, you’re fine. You’re gonna laugh, and you’re going to look forward to a fun ride. But unfortunately, the rest of the movie is actually pretty slow, has scattered laughs, and makes you wish you partook in illegal activities before you arrived to the theatre.

I Don’t Get It

There were so many aspects of Pineapple Express that I just didn’t understand. Here were some of the quirks that didn’t do it for me:

1) Danny McBride plays a drug dealer who eventually befriends Franco and Rogen. The twist on him is that he can never die. I didn’t get it. Maybe if I was high, it would’ve been perfectly hilarious. But being sober, it just felt like a plotline from an episode of Lost. It didn’t fit into the movie at all, and it really wasn’t all that funny.

2) Seth Rogen’s girlfriend is in high school. They use about 20 minutes of screen time dedicated to this off-the-wall premise, and it doesn’t garner many laughs. I guarantee Rogen was thinking: wouldn’t it be funny if my character was such a loser, he dated a high school girl...then what? Well, that’s it. That’s the joke. I didn’t get it.

3) Rosie Perez (Gloria from White Men Can’t Jump) and Gary Cole (Office Space) play drug dealers and the main antagonists. Cole, who is hilarious in Office Space and several other movies, has nothing to do. Why Rosie Perez is even in this—I have no idea. They take up space and add nothing to the movie.

4) There are countless jokes about drug dealers/killers hoping they can get home in time to have dinner with their wives. Pretty funny, huh? I didn’t get it.

5) The last 15 minutes provided us with the big action sequence. It was either some of the worst filmmaking you’ll ever see (like a junior college short film) or it was brilliant satire. Unfortunately, I think it was really bad film making. I’m not a director or experienced in that area, but even as a novice, things did not seem right. I felt like I was watching a really bad commercial—that was the overall feel of it. Once again, I just didn’t get it.

The Pace

There is dialogue that’s gonna make you laugh out loud. But there is also so much dialogue that it’s going to make you check your watch. Some of the scenes dragged on for so long that it killed the pacing of the entire movie. I expected a True Romance—a fast-paced action-comedy revolving around drugs. Instead, it was really slow. Franco and Rogen would pepper in a few funny lines, but the hit-miss ratio was way off.

Even in the end, when the pace picked up, the editors decided to throw an unnecessary scene in the middle to slow it down again. It created a choppy flow and made you wish someone looked this over before they finished the final print.

Pet Peeves

One of my pet peeves about Judd Apatow movies is that every character is over-the-top. You’ll notice in all his movies that the side characters are inexplicably vulgar to get a laugh. (40 Year-Old Virgin—the fathers at the Sex Education Meeting, Knocked Up—the Doctor, and in Pineapple Express—the father of the high school girlfriend.) Someone needs to tell him that not every character has to curse or be over-the-top in order to get a laugh.

Pineapple Express also loves the “gay joke.” There’s a ton of homoerotic undertones. (Daryl from the Office plays a gay hit man. The relationship between Rogen and Franco is a little like the ambiguous gay duo, or Bert and Ernie, or Damon and Affleck.) Some of it is hilarious (like the escape scene near the end), but eventually it gets worn out. It was like my roommate from years ago who would make a “gay” joke every ten minutes. “You’re eating lunch right now? That’s pretty gay.” “Going to play basketball…gay!” Going on a date with a girl…gay!” It got so bad that I started making “hetero” jokes just to balance it out. But, that’s what happens when you get a group of guys hanging out together. They’re gonna joke around and inevitably, the “gay” joke is going to come up again and again. It just would’ve been nice if they balanced it out a little more.

Franco Saves the Day

Despite all my criticism of Pineapple Express, there is one reason why this movie is watchable: James Franco; he carried this film! If he wasn’t in it, this film could’ve been a dud. His tone, mannerisms, and dialogue save this movie. He is absolutely hilarious! Ignore the flimsy plot, the annoying side characters, and the mediocre Rogen performance. Instead, enjoy Franco’s awesomeness with quotes like this: “I just got a shipment of Pineapple Express, the dopest dope I've ever smoked. Smellll it. It's like... God's vagina.”

Huey Lewis and the News

On a side note, Judd Apatow and the gang must love Back to the Future. In Knocked Up, there’s an entire scene where they talk about Doc Brown and the DeLorean. (Paul Rudd: “Where we're going we don't need roads.”)

And now, Huey Lewis, the main contributor on the Back to the Future soundtrack in which he also had a cameo, now sings the theme song to Pineapple Express. It sounds like Hip to Be Square, but it’s really about weed. Something about Huey singing about pot just does not seem right. But I guess it’s cool to have him back in the movies.

Conclusion

I love comedies, I love Rogen, and I love Apatow, but Pineapple Express just didn’t meet my expectations. It is mildly entertaining, but it’s very frustrating. It’s one of those movies you can really bash because it could’ve been great. It seemed like Apatow and his friends made the movie to make each other laugh. It just would’ve been nice if they let us in on the jokes as well.

9 comments:

Anonymous said...

you posted this at 6:20 am?! Wow you need to get a life man....

Wonderland Baby said...

LOL =) I actually have you on my blog as a blog fave. Love your stuff, keep it coming!

Stuff said...

Hey Anonymous,

I think my computer is programmed on west coast time so it was really at 9:20 am. I still have no life though. thanks for the comment.

Nick said...

Hey it's Nick from Nick's Movie Reviews. I noticed your occupation is listed as writer and that you work in NY and LA. Do you mind if I ask if you went to school in NY and if you did, where did you go? I'm an aspiring movie critic and I'm at that point in my life where I need to pick a college and since you actually are a writer I figure you would know a good school. You've got an excellent blog here also. I hope you continue to visit my blog in the future.

A Beautiful Contradiction said...

I loved "Pineapple Express"!!! (And no, before you ask, I am not a stoner. I have never smoked anything ever in my life.) I laughed so hard I almost peed myself more than a couple of times.

I agree that James Franco was the best part of the movie. After watching him in "Annapolis," I was unsure if he could carry off playing a stoner. He did an incredible job. I actually shot Mt. Dew out of my nose at the "God's vagina" line that you quoted.

Anonymous said...

Hi.

I loved the movie- every second of it. I couldn't stop laughing. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

But, I tend not to agree with your idea on the gay subject. Yes, the one guy was gay but I'm not sure they meant the friendship to be a gay thing.

Don't forget that they basically made fun of pot heads and straight people (both main characters) the whole time. It was a movie filled with many sterotypes (which I think makes it funny because people are always scared to touch on them)... and I think that most sterotypes had nothing to do with being gay and more to do with the straight pot smokers.

Have a good one.

movie buff said...

first half of Pineapple Express was about half as good as Knocked Up; the second half was almost as bad as Freddy Got Fingered

mo.nique said...

i loved this review! i thought it was hilarious, and i totally agree with what you said about the movies potential to be good. your other posts are really funny too. i like reading the dating ones like "j date 202". i definetly dont do online dating but it was funny to read about anyways. :)

Anonymous said...

arg - your scathing review is that you "didn't get it?" I'm not a pothead, and I "got it"...yeah, it wasn't a perfect movie, but I thought at least the first 2/3rds were damn close. I agree Franco is great.

I also think your irritation at the "gay jokes" misses the mark...I didn't get the impression it was 'haha', wouldn't it be funny if we were gay because that would be awkward...' if anything, the movie was hinting that the characters actually WERE gay. Dude, for a mainstream film, that's a fucking revelation. First bromance I've seen to be essentially explicit about it. And the film structure follows the exact trajectory of a standard heterosexual romance...the getting together, the 'sex scene' (frolicking in the woods), the breakup scene, the post-breakup mope, the mindchange, and the protagonists efforts to win back the love interest. Complete with "makeup sex" and dramatic rescue. It explains why the highschool girlfriend is so undeveloped - her sole purpose is to let Rogen make a choice between her and his bro. He picks the bro.

This film is a romance, but better than most shitty romances because the characters aren't stuck in stereotyped gender roles. They can be much more real and adorable.

And the filmmakers just indulge in some over the top violence...because, well, I guess because they're guys and they got 23 million dollars to blow shit up.

And yeah, some of the jokes are undeveloped, (the dude not dying, the killers with wives), but in a movie with so many gags, some have to be duds by default. The hit miss ratio in this film is almost as high as a masterpiece like Wayne's World - not much miss.

Anyways, thanks for writing a detailed review because it gave me something to respond to, but I think you really missed the point of the film...by, well, a fucking lot. Shrug.