A Black Man’s Review Of
“Pineapple Express”


Movie Biases:
Can Apatow reverse the curse?

Major Players:
Seth Rogen, James Franco, producer Judd Apatow, director David Gordon Green

Stoned process server Dale (Rogen) and his dealer-cum-buddy Saul (Franco) are on the run - in “high” style - from a ruthless distributor (Gary Cole) and dirty cop (Rosie Perez) who want them dead for Dale’s witnessing a murder in their war with rival Asian mafia.

The Deal:
As wonderful as 2007 was for Judd Apatow, I hate to admit that he risks being overexposed in 2008. For every “Forgetting Sarah Marshall,” there is a “Drillbit Taylor” or a “Step Brothers.” I don’t blame him for wanting to produce everything under the sun; the man toiled in relative Hollywood obscurity after his TV show “Freaks and Geeks” was canceled, diligently readying himself for when preparation met opportunity (a.k.a. luck). While as uneven and random as the stoner comedy genre itself, “Pineapple Express” blows more than just smoke up our (bong?) pipes.

Brimming with plenty of hilarious stoner observations and “logic,” “Pineapple” features a lot of random funny while trying to (less successfully) instill a few action movie elements. Indie director David Gordon Green (Snow Angels) stages some of the most haphazard fight sequences in action-related movie history, including a horrifically disjointed house brawl that looks as if it were choreographed by pigtailed third grade girls (and that’s a good/funny thing). The Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg script (the conspirators behind “Superbad”), when not employing aggressive goofiness to demonstrate the sheer power of the BFF, takes on a slightly bizarre ANTI-drug message that’s not altogether unwelcome in the third act; thankfully, it veers from preachiness that could derail the dumb, THC-fueled fun. Green’s odd sense of pacing - intoxicatedly languid at times, hurried at others - adds to the blurry thought patterns and experience of the true marijuana vibe of this movie.

A talented cast helps. Danny McBride’s pudgy, faux-hop spewing (”Thug life!”), curly mullet-sporting, kimono-wearing freak is tweaked-out, moment-to-moment entertainment. It’s always nice to see Rosie “MOOKIE!” Perez working. Craig Robinson, most famously known as Darryl from TV’s “The Office,” is hilarious as one-half of a bumbling hitman duo out to whack Saul and Dale, with his ’90s sleeveless jeans jacket hoodie (we may mock today but you can’t hate on my H-Town stilo back in high school!) and fey lisp. In a very strange but engagingly sweet performance, James Franco disappears into the role of Saul Silver, the type of drug dealer who enjoys getting high on his own supply, caring for his Bubby (grandma), smoking Jesus cross-shaped joints, watching and quoting “227″ (great show)…and civil engineering?

Rogen takes his Everyman bit to despicable levels as Dale: he’s dating a high school senior, is a process server with a multitude of disguises, and smokes all. The. Time. Still, it’s fleshy, furry, friendly Seth Rogen; he’ll find a way for you to relate to his socially retarded loser.

“I got a contact high just watching it,” a fellow Atlantan midnight moviegoer muttered as we tittered out of the theater around 2AM Eastern. While I didn’t get all the way high, I did sustain a nice, 105 minute, Apatow-induced buzz.

It’s pretty hot - go give it a shot.

UTC’s resident film critic Edwardo Jackson is the author of the novels EVER AFTER and NEVA HAFTA, (Villard/Random House), a writer for The 213 Magazine, and an LA-based screenwriter. Visit his website at www.edwardojackson.com where his new novel I DO? is available NOW.

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