James Franco, Seth Rogen, and Danny McBride in Pineapple Express (2008)


(director: David Gordon Green; screenwriters: Seth Rogen/Evan Goldberg/based on a story by Judd Apatow, Mr. Rogen and Mr. Goldberg; cinematographer: Tim Orr; editor: Craig Alpert; music: Graeme Revell; cast: Seth Rogen (Dale), James Franco (Saul), Gary Cole (Ted), Rosie Perez (Carol), Danny McBride (Red), Ed Begley Jr. (Robert Anderson), Nora Dunn (Shannon Anderson), Amber Heard (Angie Anderson), Cleo King (Police Liaison Officer), Connie Sawyer (Faye Belogus), Bill Hader (Pvt. Miller); Runtime: 111; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Judd Apatow/Shauna Robertson; Columbia Pictures; 2008)

“The uneven comedy had its hilarious moments.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

It’s written by the “Superbad” team of Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, with Judd Apatow’s fingerprints all over it. It channels old raunchy Cheech & Chong formulaic routines and serves as a less witty and more shallow version of the Coen brothers’ The Big Lebowski (1998) comedy about friendship. Seth Rogen sounds and acts very much like John Goodman. The talented David Gordon Green (“George Washington”/”All the Real Girls”/ “Undertow”), probably the best director in Apatow’s stable, turns out this unwieldy low-grade stoner comedy that reads as a funny bromance comedy. The uneven comedy had its hilarious moments but also had a few scenes that went nowhere (the black-and-white prologue and the scenes with the fawning teenager lover literally went nowhere; and the bonding scene at the diner and the over-the-top free-for-all climactic shootout in the drug lord’s cannabis growing barn both seemed sloppily executed).

The well-dressed likable slacker loser Dale Denton (Seth Rogen), someone who refuses to grow up, is a 25-year-old weed smoking process server dating an 18-year-old high school student named Angie (Amber Heard) who is more experienced sexually than he is and is also more mature. Dale is scheduled to meet Angie’s folks (Nora Dunn & Ed Begley Jr.) for a home-cooked dinner, but on his last assignment for the day Dale witnesses the murder of an Asian drug rival when going to the suburban home of drug kingpin Ted Jones (Gary Cole) to serve him with a subpoena. The killer is a lady cop named Carol (Rosie Perez), who is involved in the drug ring and is the dim-witted drug lord’s main squeeze. Trying to flee in a hurry, the stoned and panicky Dale noisily slams into two parked cars and is spotted fleeing the scene in his black Cadillac, and when he tosses his unfinished roach away in the street Ted sniffs it out that the product is the rare high-grade Pineapple Express. That product is sold only by small-time drug dealer Saul Silver (James Franco), who says if you smell it “It’s like God’s vagina.” Saul got it from middle man Red (Danny McBride), his best friend. Back in Saul’s place, Dale convinces the zany airhead longhaired Jewish pothead dealer to flee with him before the ruthless drug lord comes around asking questions. When Ted’s inept goons, Budlofsky (Kevin Corrigan) and Matheson (Craig Robinson), don’t find Saul at home, they go to Red’s home and force him to cooperate with them in tracking down the eyewitness and Saul.

While on the lam, the harmless stoners get into a number of absurd funny situations. There’s also much seemingly forced Quentin Tarantino-like unpleasant gore mixed in with affectionate male bonding and paranoid stoner chatter; the latter is what gives the film its stoner charm and holds the flimsy pic together. Though it has nothing to say of substance and has many padded scenes keeping it unnecessarily lengthy, it does tote enough comedy in its bong (or newly created crucifix-shaped “cross-joint”) to provide a buzz for those willing to inhale its crude comedy act. Also the great chemistry between Rogen and Franco made for some pitch-perfect comedy sequences, with McBride as the third member of the team having the outrageous scene-stealing part of the weirdo back-stabbing bud.