So THE DARK KNIGHT is still holding steady at #1 at the box office but riding on its ass at #2 is:
PINEAPPLE EXPRESS (Dir. David Gordon Green, 2008)
“Stoner Action Comedy” - those are the key words in all the publicity blitz surrounding this movie. Also the ‘buzz’ (Can't resist) was that this entry in the juvenile yet thoughtful Judd Apatow produced movie sweepstakes was helmed by David Gordon Green, best known for film fare like ALL THE REAL GIRLS, GEORGE WASHINGTON and SNOW ANGELS.
What we’ve got here is a self-effacing Seth Rogen re-united with his Freaks And Geeks (also an Apatow creation) co-star James Franco as the leads going through some of the same stressful stoned situations that Cheech and Chong (or more recently Harold & Kumar) went through back in the day but this time out we’ve got more heart (of the John Hughes variety), more inventive sideline characters (of the Quentin Tarantino ilk), and lots of sloppy yet involving action (shout outs to the white trash fight scenes of the Coen brothers’ RAISING ARIZONA) to keep us rolling.
Sure, on the surface this is SUPERBAD with murder but look closer and you'll see that PINEAPPLE EXPRESS has a movie mojo of its own.
Rogen plays a process server (funnily called a protest servant at one point by Franco) who spends his days smoking weed between delivering subpoenas, dreaming of being a talk radio personality, and visiting his 18 year old girlfriend (Amber Heard).
Rogen's new dealer (James Franco), who seems to spend his days watching reruns of 227 while dreaming of being a civil engineer, hooks him up with a rare species of super potent marijuana called “Pineapple Express” which as events go places Rogen at the scene to witness a murder committed by an evil drug kingpin (Gary Cole) and a corrupt cop (Rosie Perez).
After that the buzzed buddies are on the run wrongly thinking a fellow dealer named Red (Danny McBride) will help them and that it's a good idea for Rogen to still make a dinner engagement with his girlfriend and her parents (Ed Begley Jr. and Nora Dunn) while eluding Cole’s hired thugs (Kevin Corrigan and Craig Robinson).
Gross-out humor prevails as our high heroes endure a rowdy car chase, clashes with each other, and finally a warehouse shoot-out with the Ninja-like attack of an Asian gang and many many grotesque woundings.
The premise is so slight that it nearly disintegrates but that hardly matters as there are so many funny lines and a smile inducing joy throughout. The leading duo have a hilarious chemistry especially when disagreeing on their next move with Rogen's bemused reactions to Franco's mangling of old cliched sayings: “the monkey’s out of the bottle, man!”
Danny McBride, such a stiff in THE FOOT FIST WAY, plays an incredibly amusing character here who steals every scene he's in as he gets abused more than any one else and even killed over and over a la Kenny on South Park. The only weak scenes are the ones with Cole and Perez who, likable as they are, don’t match the over the top tone as they gruffly flirt while their crooked worlds collide.
Likewise Rogen’s girlfriend subplot could be cut altogether which would confirm McBride’s repeated “bros before hos” stance. These are minor grumblings for PINEAPPLE EXPRESS is the funniest movie I’ve seen at the theater this year and has enough laughs for many repeated viewings.
With Green’s sturdy direction and Rogen and Evan Goldberg’s gloriously silly screenplay the Apatow universe expands once more with another of a strong line of consistent comedies; movies so full of mayhem and mirth that you don't have to be stoned to enjoy because they’re baked enough for all of us.