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A Weed-Loving Ride on the ‘Pineapple Express’

August 26, 2008
By Tony Rutherford



How did we get into this mess? By smoking, inhaling and bonging a sweet smelling, tropical flavored, stash of a leafy, green weed. And it’s a gradually tightening noose from which these grossly “high” dudes must run.


Considering the physical ineptitudes and bruises absorbed by Dale (Seth Rogen) and Saul ( James Franco), their opus might as well be a 21st century “Reefer Madness,” not a “Pineapple Express.” Once upon a time, Dale Denton had a cool process serving job where he could dress in disguises and confidently shout the dreaded, “you’re  served” upon the most wily target. He had a lovely, blond 18-year-old high school senior for a “g.f.” (played by Amber Heard, a Maxim hottie) and the 20-something’s greatest  worry was the next to  impossible task of  impressing her parents.


As the marijuana devil snares the soul of anyone lighting the joint, the subpoena dude’s about to tumble into a stoner’s version of Hades. His target happens to be a major weed supplier and while staking out his pad he witnesses the dark side of illegal drug use — a female cop wasting an Asian man from a rival gang, which ignites territorial warfare.


After his diminished capacity flight leaves a burned Pineapple Express joint and dents on a cruiser and another vehicle, Saul and Dale wallow in sorrows as two gun-toting assassins seek to snuff out their lives.


Slyly, the trip on this trip are the double meanings throughout, i.e. the woes of intoxicated users stuck in a repetitive circle of irrationality and the subtle ‘if you had not taken the first puff, none of this would be happening’ sermon. 


Updating “Cheech & Chong’s” barely functional pothead pair, Judd (“Superbad,” “Knocked Up,”) Apatow splatters 21st century physical head and body banging with heavy doses of gutter talk. “Pineapple Express” belches raunchy comedy with a tip of the toke to cultural sensitivity.


First time studio director, David Gordon Green (a Sundance favorite), has the inept dope heads puttering along two steps ahead of the equally messed up assassins. Pulling off this pothead fantasy requires tolerance for rancid and irrational behavior that equals their mindset when high and flighty.


Rogen and Franco have their physical quirks in sync and sparks fill in my sentence chemistry. They spur affable feelings, as just a couple of ordinary, ‘yeah, we’re high’ guys — one dealing for a living, the other acquiring weed as another item on the weekly grocery list.


Dangling obvious oversight in front of eyeballs, the director lets his audience chuckle while the pair stumbles on sentence fragments, guns parts and each other. Role and emotional reversals score, particularly the school locker scene, hallucination forest dinner at Amber’s and a blindfolded cruiser chasing cruiser game of vehicular Russian roulette. Similarly, allusions to politically correct adult responsibilities spin hilarity halos.


Less workable are the “you shot me” and “you shot me again” sketches. Certainly a nice reference to the pain killing commodities of cannabis, but these forever bleeding to unconsciousness bits prevented my guts from busting, along with the script routinely chugging characters conveniently out of the way (Amber’s parents, for instance). 





Contact Tony at trutherford@graffitiwv.com
 
 

 

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