Pineapple Express: Not Just For Stoners

by DeAnn Welker August 4, 2008 4:40 pm
<i>Pineapple Express</i>: Not Just For Stoners Pineapple Express sets you up to think of it as nothing more than a stoner comedy, from the trailer to the posters all the way to the movie's opening sequence -- in which Seth Rogen's character, Dale, calls in to a talk radio show and tells them that pot needs to be legal because it makes everything better, even "shitty movies." This early in the movie, it hasn't gotten funny yet, so your thought then might be, "Hey, at least they're honest enough to tell us we should be high to enjoy this."

But then it starts getting funny, and it never really lets up. I have never liked stoner comedies -- not Friday or Half-Baked or Dazed and Confused -- so I feel confident in saying this is not just a movie for potheads. It's hard to believe, I know. And even more difficult when you hear what the movie's about: Dale, a process server who believes one should never be friends with one's dealer, tries to make his visits to his own dealer, Saul (James Franco), as short as possible. Saul likes Dale, though, and to prove it, he bestows upon him the really good weed, a rare strain called "Pineapple Express." As luck would have it, Dale is scheduled to serve papers to Saul's supplier, but before he can, he witnesses a murder. He panics and leaves his joint at the scene when he flees, taking refuge (somewhat inexplicably) at Saul's place. It soon dawns on them both that "Pineapple Express" is so rare that the joint will lead the murderer right back to Saul, which will in turn lead right to Dale. This leaves the hapless duo no choice but to go on the lam.

It certainly sounds silly and perfect for stoners, right? And I'm sure it probably is. But it's also funny -- no, make that hilarious -- for the rest of us. And you might think, "Yeah, of course it's funny. It's from Apatow & Friends," but it's actually more than that, for a couple of major reasons:

1. Pineapple Express combines the best features of Apatow-style comedy (Knocked Up, Superbad, etc.) with action-movie violence that borders on insane -- in a good way. I don't want to spoil anything, because half the fun comes from the surprise of it, but I will just say that it's honestly shocking anyone survives in this film -- or survived making it -- with the falls and gunshot wounds and car chases and and broken necks that are suffered. It is not for the weak-stomached or faint of heart.

2. James Franco has found his calling. Enough with the Spider-Man stuff already, James; you were made to do comedy. Franco is arguably the funniest thing about Pineapple Express, with his sincere delivery and his knack for physical comedy. This movie shows how diverse he really is as an actor -- he could play the straight man or the goofball. And here I thought he was the least talented (albeit most commercially successful) actor to come out of Freaks and Geeks. Was I ever wrong: Turns out he's actually the funniest of all.

Sure the plot is far-fetched, or at least not nearly as rooted in reality as other Apatow offerings, but Pineapple Express may well make you laugh harder than anything you've seen in a good long while. And you don't even have to be high.




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