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Pineapple Express

If you find yourself laughing at Pineapple Express, it’s probably because you really want to like this movie. I mean what’s not to like? Yet another Team Apatow production, the movie stars comedy darling Seth Rogen (Knocked Up, Superbad) and teen dream James Franco (Spiderman, Flyboys) in a funny movie about smoking pot.

On paper, that’s a deal I’d sign for sure. In reality however, Pineapple Express is far from the Icky Sticky and more like a bad case of stinkweed.

Pineapple Express starts off strangely. Its first few minutes are a black and white flashback of a hidden government facility working on a top secret project circa 1938. When the Army Official who’s in charge of the project comes to check on the progress, he’s horrified to find out that the test subject is out of his mind on a foreign substance and then he consequently closes the project down. The foreign substance in question?


No reference to any particular strain or growth, just weed itself. After the project is shut down, there’s no real connection to the next scene, because then we appear in current day and the main story begins.

The main crux of Pineapple Express is about pot-smoking unmotivated subpoena server Dale Denton (Rogen). Not much is revealed about Denton other than he smokes a lot of pot and dates eighteen year old high school student Angie (Amber Heard).

For no real reason, Denton visits his trusty drug dealer Saul (Franco) to pick up his weekly stash. Saul, feeling generous, or just high, decides to share some of his prize possession pot, The Pineapple Express, with Denton, mostly because he’s just lonely and wants somebody to smoke out with. It’s here where we get our first real exposition of the plot, where Saul tells us that this batch of weed is so rare, that he’s the only dealer in the entire city who’s been allowed by the higher end bigwigs to sell it.

After what one might assume is an attempt at stoner bonding, Saul sells some of the mythical Pineapple Express to Denton and they exchange some nonsensical dialogue that’s supposed to pass as character development. Denton departs, Saul eats cereal or something and here we are twenty minutes into a movie that has no real focus.

While Denton is preparing to serve another deadbeat on his list he pulls over to light up some of that awesome Pineapple Express. Which at this point has only been talked about being great and acted as being the greatest weed, but is in no way demonstrated in the film as being any different from any other normal weed. At least in the great stoner comedy Half Baked when their medical marijuana was smoked, they exaggerated the effect of the super weed with a badly done flying effect. Granted it was a sillier movie, but it at least demonstrated the difference of the more potent weed as compared to just weed in general.

While waiting outside his client’s house baking in his car, Denton notices the owner of the house, Ted Jones (Gary Cole), murder a man in cold blood.

Shocked and terrified, and mostly high, Denton sloppily tries to flee the scene and causes a big ruckus slamming into two parked cars. Just narrowly escaping, Denton makes the biggest stoner mistake you could make and tosses his doobie out the window.

This really gets the plot moving because as Ted Jones comes outside to watch the would-be witness jettison away without seeing him, Jones realizes that the doof left a clue on the pavement. And Jones does what any crazy murderer would do -- he picks up the discarded roach and takes a drag. And what does he find out?

It’s Pineapple Express!

How does he know? Well, he’s the drug dealer who gave it to Saul, of course.

Yes folks, the entire movie balances on this toothpick tip thin of a point.

It’s at this point in the film where any real semblance of a story has been thrown out the window for the hopes that people will just find stoners funny and not sad, pathetic, lonely people (which the movie unintentionally portrays them as).

For no apparent reason, in a panic state, Denton seeks sanctuary at Saul’s place in hopes that the hapless drug dealer he was just a few minutes ago using to buy drugs will help him out. It’s here that the audience is once again reminded that Pineapple Express is exclusive to Saul and that anyone who can identify weed just by taste will surely know where to find him.

The rest of the film can only be described as a self proclaimed, stoner action movie, as Denton and Saul try to escape Jones’ thugs (Craig Robeson and Kevin Corrigan) and friend/enemy and part time immortal, Red (Danny McBride).

There’s also a super thin subplot of an Asian crime family out for vengeance that’s so utterly underdeveloped that it’s not even worth mentioning other than that it just gives the filmmakers an excuse to cast Bobby Lee and Dr. Ken Jeong (The Kims of Comedy).

Pineapple Express is a mess of a movie. Inspired by Brad Pitt's stoner character from True Romance and written by the team that brought you Superbad (Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg) Express is convoluted by what it really wants to be.

The main story has no central question, side plots of Denton’s girlfriend and her parents are useless and unnecessary and the comedy just isn’t there. There are laughs, sure, but as a whole the movie is just weak. It starts being a dialogue heavy script hipping the whole pot thing, then the second half is just a cartoon of an eighties action movie with no real motivation for any characters other than just being there.

One liners are used gratuitously and most fall flat in their absurdity and by the end of the film it almost feels as if the film makers gave up on the movie too. Gary Cole, who’s usually great in everything he does, is wasted here. Rogen is uneven as the dopey loser, who then turns into a gun toting action star. Franco is just playing Jeff Spicoli from Fast Times at Ridgemont High, and is forgettable.

Pineapple Express brings nothing new to the stoner comedy genre and in a way, is actually off putting to stoners in general. It almost plays to the stereotype that stoners are always funny because they’re always high and that’s enough. The movie even banks on that fact and hopes that general audiences will accept that premise over a movie with a real plot, smart jokes, and likable characters.

Well, if the people behind Pineapple Express think that stoners will just accept a sub par stoner comedy, especially after such classics as Dazed and Confused, the aforementioned Half Baked and anything by Cheech and Chong, then surely they must be high.

Lon Lopez

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