I can only think of a few reasons why anyone would want to review “Pineapple Express” (2008), and 90% of those reasons involve getting paid to render reviews of all movies regardless of the societal, intellectual or even environmental value. However, my reason is much more personal: on Christmas Day, my family was gathered around the hearth generating a list of potential movies for me to review in 2012. My teenage daughter suggested reviewing Pineapple Express. So for her, and for the challenge this will present, I offer this review.
The title, Pineapple Express, refers to a specific type of dope – in the old days, they just called it “pot” and left it at that. But according to this and other movies, like Due Date, there are many different variations of weed for the marijuana connoisseur, with names like Blue Oyster or Northern Lights or Afghan Kush.
Seth Rogen plays Dale Denton, a down-on-his-luck process server who people are forever calling a scum bag and “blood sucker” and “jerk,” and who also admits to dating a high school girl even though he is long out of high school. While serving papers and smoking dope one evening, Denton witnesses a murder committed by an underworld biggie (played by Gary Cole). I would have preferred Bruce Greenwood in Cole’s role – he plays a convincing, cold, bad guy – remember “Dinner for Schmucks?” (2011) Gary Cole is not bad, but I rather like him in good-guy parts. Personal preference really.
That the murder is committed by Cole and his rogue-police-officer-girlfriend (played by Rosie Perez) in plain view in front of a wall-length window is odd. After viewing the murder, Denton throws his Pineapple Express doobie out the window and runs to his drug dealer, Saul Silver, played by James Franco. Unfortunately, the discarded doobie operates like a calling card, so that Cole’s character knows where to send his thugs to find Denton and Silver in order to eliminate any witnesses.
Denton and Silver run from bad guys; they hide in woods and trash dumpsters; they abscond in police cars; their escapades involve the high-school girl’s parents.
If you liked Franco in “Date Night” (2010) and “Your Highness” (2011), I’m pretty sure you will like his turn as the drugged-out-high-perpetually-smiling-doper. However, if your movie-viewing palette is more discriminating and leans toward his roles in “127 Hours” (2010) or Tristan & Isolde” (2006), then you may want to skip this movie.
Danny McBride is also in this movie, and, for the record, I am not a fan – I blame him for the banal nature of Your Highness, which he co-wrote. The premise of that movie had promise, but the trailers and commercials exposed any funny scenes, and the rest of the movie basically stunk. I can see how he adds minimal value to small roles in “Due Date” (2010) and “Up in the Air” (2009) and Pineapple Express, but I feel confident that he will never steal a scene, nor is he meant to carry a movie.
Mini digression: I just want to know who talked Natalie Portman into appearing in Your Highness. What a shame! Her career was far too advanced and respectable for her to make that choice! Luckily, it represents a small blemish on an otherwise glowing resume. (when I read this review to my daughter, she rolled her eyes and said “now you’re reviewing Your Highness!, to which I replied, “Not in this lifetime!”)
Pineapple Express is a buddy movie for stoners, with all its hazy mis-communication and mental lapses and raucous physical mishaps. No great dialogue or revealing plot dilemmas. This movie is mindless and its fun. Enough said.
Oh, and one more thing: in the beginning of the movie, while stoned, Denton claims that smoking pot makes “bad movies better.” Is that true?
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