Pineapple Express (Rated R) Four Stars

    {mosimage}With Pineapple Express (111 minutes), you get what is promised, a sort of Harold and Kumar go to White Castle mixed with Reservoir Dogs. While there is nothing new here, neither is the film impossible to enjoy. Apatow productions consistently delivers in the R-rated comedy department, and writers Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg provide some clever dialogue in between the near constant physical comedy (and, for you trivia buffs, the script was actually inspired by the character of Floyd from True  Romance). David Gordon Green (who is rumored to be tackling the Suspiria remake next) seems an odd choice for director here, but even so he lives up to the material. The only glaring misstep is the inexplicable casting of Rosie Perez as the “sexy” corrupt cop, Carol Brazier.     You know who would have been a much better choice in this role? Pam Grier. You know who has far too much self-respect to agree to such a  pathetic role? Pam Grier. 
    We open in 1937 in a secret underground government laboratory, where Pfc. Miller (Bill Hader) is participating in tests to help the government make a decision on the legal status of marijuana. In the present, a process server named Dale Denton connects with his new dealer, Saul Silver (James Franco). Dale buys a rare strain of cannabis from Saul, heads off to visit his girlfriend Angie (Amber Heard), and then goes to serve a subpoena to Ted Jones (Gary Cole).       Dale witnesses something he shouldn’t, and runs to Saul’s apartment while Ted dispatches his henchmen Matheson (Craig Robinson from The Office) and Budlofsky (Kevin Corrigan). Dale and Saul find their way to Red (Danny McBride), Saul’s middleman, and thence to a series of violent misadventures in which Dale and Saul affirm, again and again, that “bromance” never dies. The film’s climax takes place at the underground bunker introduced in the beginning of the film, now turned into a grow house for the wacky tobaccy sold by Ted.
    Does the film glorify drug use, specifically the use of marijuana? While the film focuses on the comic aspects of smoking dope, as the characters evolve they do seem to develop some self awareness regarding the negative side-effects of pot. For an action comedy, there is actually a certain amount of depth to the discussions regarding the pros and cons of illegal marijuana use. Will the average viewer pick up on the fact that by the end of the move Dale has become disenchanted with his lifestyle, having pointed out several times that if it weren’t for the drugs he might have avoided much of the trouble Saul and he faced, as well as identifying specific instances in which being high worsened their situations? It is hard to say, but even though this is a hyper violent action/stoner comedy, there are certainly several levels on which to enjoy this. 
    But before the credits roll, Pineapple Express does have several more lessons to teach us. One, James Franco makes perfect sad puppy dog eyes. Two, putting your foot through a car windshield to improve highway vision does not work. Three, shaved armpits actually improve your fighting ability. Four, Ed Begley Jr. with a shotgun is actually less scary than Ed Begley Jr. preaching an environmental message. Five, and most important, even though the excellent song “Paper Planes” is in the trailer, the song does not find its way into the actual movie or the soundtrack.  

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