We've all known lovable losers like Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) and Saul Silver (James Franco). Dale is a 25-year-old schlub who doesn't think the fact that he's sleeping with a high school senior (Amber Heard) is that big a deal, and Saul is one of those overly friendly neighborhood drug dealers who wants to chat a bit too long before the sale is complete. They're the kind of guys who don't really think too much of the world around them unless it's willing to sell them some good weed or perhaps trying to kill them. On one particularly bad night, Dale buys some of the legendary Pineapple Express from Saul right before he happens to see the dopest dealer's supplier, Ted Jones (Gary Cole), start a turf war by capping a rival Asian dealer in the back of the head. Dale drops his roach at the scene of the crime and, knowing that only Saul sells the Pineapple, Ted sets out to eliminate any witnesses. Thus the chase is on…with pit stops along the way to refresh the buzz.
The supporting cast in Pineapple Express - including the best turn yet by the comedy newcomer of the year, Danny McBride - is great, but moviegoers know that a buddy movie lives and dies on the strength of its actual buddies. If you get on the wavelength being sent out by Rogen and Franco, it's almost impossible not to fall for this strain of comedy. Franco steals the summer with the best comedy lead performance of the season and continues to prove that this is his strength, not drama. (Annapolis and Flyboys? Borderline unbearable. Freaks and Geeks and Pineapple Express? Effing brilliant.) Every decision that Franco makes with this character is the right one. He's hysterical, easy to root for, and the perfect counterpart for Rogen. Green certainly deserves some credit for helping craft this timeless character, and the overall strength of the entire ensemble has clearly been elevated by having an A-list director of Green's caliber. It's the way that Green (and Rogen and Goldberg with their script) paces Pineapple Express that gives it comedic potency.
It's only in the big action scenes that Pineapple Express kind of falls apart. The small action scenes, including a great hair-pulling, calling "Time out!" fight between Rogen and McBride, are comedy gold, but the big stuff like the deadly drug war is a little misplayed. These scenes are missing the energy that Tarantino brings to a scene like the adrenalin shot in Pulp Fiction or his writing of Natural Born Killers. The buddy comedy high of the majority of Pineapple Express carries over a bit too much to the action, which sometimes feels like it was detailed in both script and storyboard form with all the complexity of "sh*t goes down." By the climax - which, as with all things Apatow, comes about twenty minutes too late - the buzz has kind of worn off this joint, but that doesn't make the initial high any less memorable.
Rating: THREE AND A HALF BONES
Reviewed by Brian Tallerico (MovieRetriever.com Film Critic)
Release Date: August 6, 2008
Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Gary Cole, Rosie Perez, Kevin Corrigan, and Amber Heard
Director: David Gordon Green
Writers: Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg