'Pineapple Express': Sweetly, Stylishly Dopey

James Franco and Seth Rogen i

On an ordinary day, Dale (Seth Rogen) and Saul (James Franco) while away their time toking and watching television. Dale Robinette/Columbia Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Dale Robinette/Columbia Pictures
James Franco and Seth Rogen

On an ordinary day, Dale (Seth Rogen) and Saul (James Franco) while away their time toking and watching television.

Dale Robinette/Columbia Pictures

Pineapple Express

  • Director: David Gordon Green
  • Genre: Comedy, Action
  • Running Time: 111 minutes

Rated R: Combines the crude humor of dude comedies with the chase scenes of action flicks — expect droves of adolescents to sneak in.

Seth Rogen and James Franco i

But on one extraordinarily awful day, the two run from corrupt police officers and narrowly escape explosions. Dale Robinette/Columbia Pictures hide caption

itoggle caption Dale Robinette/Columbia Pictures
Seth Rogen and James Franco

But on one extraordinarily awful day, the two run from corrupt police officers and narrowly escape explosions.

Dale Robinette/Columbia Pictures

Even if stoner comedies, Apatow comedies and R-rated comedy-thrillers aren't really your thing, you may still be won over by James Franco in Pineapple Express.

His hair a shaggy mane, his clothes rumpled and mismatched, his eyes glazed and bloodshot — and nonetheless puppy-dog plaintive — he could hardly be scruffier as the perpetually stoned Saul Silver. Or more affably, adorably appealing.

Franco's Saul gets introduced to the audience in a drug deal so laid-back it almost doesn't happen: He offers stoned process-server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) a taste of the titular weed, and they both promptly get lost in a smoky, breeze-shooting haze.

Pineapple Express, see, is a blend of high-grade marijuana so rare that smoking it seems almost a shame to Saul — "like killing a unicorn" — and in his addled state, the very fact that he's sharing it makes him certain that he and Dale must have become close friends.

The dope is also rare enough that a smoldering joint Dale drops in panic — as he witnesses a murder committed by a drug lord and a crooked cop — gets traced back to Saul. Which means the two have to go on the lam thereafter. Hilarity, and a good deal of violence, ensue.

And while the violence is what separates this film from the stoner comedies that preceded it this summer (as well as the Cheech & Chong epics of yesteryear), it's generally as comic as it is distressing, whether it involves an earlobe being shot off or a deliriously clumsy fistfight among three stoners — none of whom has ever before thrown a punch.

Director David Gordon Green, who's previously specialized in indie dramas of a far more serious stripe, proves adept at knockabout farce.

He also brings an artist's eye to scenic composition in a genre not really known for cinematic deftness. An isolated barn looks as striking here as it would in a film by Terrence Malick — never mind that what's happening inside that barn is slapstick of a sort Blake Edwards would appreciate.

Pineapple Express is probably the most artful of the Apatow Factory comedies so far, but that's not to suggest it doesn't take being sweetly dumb just as seriously as the rest. What fun would a comedy about dope be, after all, if it weren't dopey?

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.