Friday, January 09, 2009

Reviewed by: Paul Shirey

Director: David Gordon Green

Actors: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride, Gary Cole, Craig Robinson, Amber Heard, and Rosie Perez

Movie: 4 stars
DVD: 3.5 stars
Overall: 4 stars

Seth Rogen plays a dead-end stoner who witnesses a murder and pulls his dealer, played by James Franco, into the mix and on the run from a vindictive drug boss.

I’ve heard a lot of people say that they just didn’t “get” this movie or felt they had to be stoned to enjoy it. However, I sipped a Diet Coke and ate popcorn and laughed my ass off, drug free. If you’re a fan of Rogen/Apatow style comedy then this is definitely for you. It’s got the improv style comedy that’s been steamrolling through movies like this since Anchorman and it delivers the goods, even if it comes off a little awkward from time to time.

It’s hard to steal the show from Rogen, but Franco and McBride do just that. Franco plays the staring-at-the-wind drug dealer to perfection and McBride is hysterical as the double-crossing dealer, Red (who bakes a cake for his dead cat’s birthday…awesome). Whenever these three are onscreen together you can feel the comedy magic. It’s like hanging out with three of your best friends and talking shit for a few hours. Like Superbad before it, Pineapple Express, for better or worse, is continuing the new sub-genre of “bromance” flicks, which isn’t all-bad, but isn’t all-good either. I guess it depends on how in touch you are with your “bromantic” side.

Surprisingly enough, the action in the film isn’t too bad. It’s not Tony Scott or anything, but it’s a giant leap over something you’d see in a Pink Panther movie. And with more blood. The violence is borderline over-the-top and they play it off in a clumsy manner, which is the way it should be since most drug dealers/stoners aren’t former Special Forces soldiers. Although it’s a bit much to see Seth Rogen suspended from wires Matrix-style, it’s all good fun and big laughs. Ultimately, I think this will gain a bigger audience on DVD, and deservedly so. And don’t believe the hype that you have to be stoned to enjoy this.

I’m not saying it wouldn’t hurt, but…

Also, “Tryin’ to get a mothaf**kin’ scholarship!” is a line we need to spread around. Good stuff.

Video: 2.40:1 widescreen. As mentioned before this is a much better-looking comedy than most. The action scenes are pretty well staged and with enough damage and gore to give your HD a good run. This is one of the few comedies I’d recommend picking up on Blu Ray.

Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital. Like the action scenes, the sound design is above average for the genre. There are plenty of gunshots and a better-than-average car chase that give you the go ahead to crank this one up a notch. Or maybe listening to the inhalation of illegal substances at high decibels is your thing. Either way, it’s a good listen.

There are two versions here, an unrated and rated cut of the film and one with a second disc of extras. I watched the single disc, unrated version, which had plenty of extras to tide me over.

Extended/Alternate Scenes: (9:50)
I could take or leave these scenes. All the best improv is in the movie, and there’s nothing here that will make you start a petition to have these put back in, which are all just missing pieces of scenes already in the film.

Gag Reel: (4:55)
I usually dig the gag reels, but too often the gags aren’t quite as funny to the viewer at home, because they apply heavily to what’s going on on-set. This is a cluster of pseudo-funny moments, but again, nothing special.

Making Of: (21:07)
This is a nice “cliff notes” making of. Not too long or too short and gives a good feeling of how the movie was made. The most interesting aspect was learning that the inspiration for the film came from Brad Pitt’s character in True Romance, which shines a whole new light on Franco’s character.


This is the gold nugget of the extras. Seth Rogen sums up the commentary best by stating that it “feels like a radio show.” Nearly the entire cast and some crew come and go throughout the commentary, as if just dropping by to say a few words and head out. I’ve seen this before and it truly baffles me that people would want to show up for just a few minutes in a commentary or even show up late for the recording session. A few people literally phone it in.

However, it’s a fun commentary, replete with Rogen’s trademark laugh throughout and with the added bonus of numerous stories and anecdotes from all involved, including a story about LL Cool J and how Seth Rogen has seen Rosie Perez naked. If you don’t have anyone to watch the movie with then just turn on the commentary and you’ll have a whole gang with you.

Pineapple Express is highly underrated and is given a bad rap by those who feel it’s just another stoner comedy. It’s got great characters, off-the-wall action, a healthy amount of bromance, and laughs aplenty, which are consistent and steady. Get some friends together and have a good time. In the basement. When your parents aren’t home. Have air freshener handy. Enjoy.

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