Monday, April 13, 2009

Pineapple Express: A Rogan/Apatow Apetizer That Goes Well with The Munchies

I was on Twitter the other day having a debate on what exactly a “stoner” movie was. Is it a movie about stoners, or a movie you enjoy while stoned?

Pineapple Express – yet another Judd Apatow vehicle for Seth Rogan and Company (this time directed by David Gordan Green) – seems to be one of the few movies that qualifies either way, and one of the only movies I can think of that glorifies pot smoking and high-school hijinks in the same comedy.

One of the principals of an Apatow/Rogan outing, it seems, is to take an otherwise countercultural and outré youthful affair – virginity, pot smoking, teen pregnancy, pornography – add the kind of self-deprecating Jewish-inflected lead character once perfected by Albert Brooks – and turn it into a teen comedy starring a loveable schlep who tweaks convention while finding true love after all.

In Pineapple, Dale Denton, our lovable schlep played by Seth Rogan, gets in some nasty trouble with the local drug kingpin when he witnesses a murder while smoking the extremely rare Pineapple Express doobie. He stupidly dumps the incriminating doobie, thus setting up the one-and-one-half-hour chase cum buddy-bonding comedy engaged in by him and his dealer (played with charming good humor by James Franco).

Clearly, Apatow realized that the true love in Pineapple was between the two lead male characters: stoned rustabout Dale Denton and lonely drug dealer Saul Silver, and so this is also an I love You, Man, bromance that gets about as close to Logo TV territory as one can go without actually getting pornographic. Not that there’s anything wrong with that – or that the characters do anything more than tweak the bromance convention in high-comedy style – but really, guys, with the number of corn holing references tallied up in this flick, one has to wonder.

Fortunately, Pineapple Express is populated by the usual cast of excellent Apatow supporting comedians, including Danny McBride, Craig Robinson, and an especially good Ed Begly Jr. – all of whom add the necessary hilarity that keeps this barely plotted affair humming along. The film works a little bit like a clown jalopy – if we look too closely to the messages about pot smoking, violence, and underage dating, it all might seem a bit frightening – but happily, things fall apart and blow up at the necessary intervals to keep us pleasantly distracted.

All of which is to say, the movie is a bit incomprehensible, mildly disturbing, and passably enjoyable – and probably all the more so if you happened to be, like the main characters, extremely stoned.

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