Saturday, August 9, 2008

Pineapple Express


**Spoiler alert

I can very easily see the brainstorming process for this movie: Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg (who helped pen Superbad and several episodes of "Da Ali G Show") most likely sat on a dilapidated couch in a messy living room, several joints and probably a bong at hand, thinking of the most ridiculous ways for their characters in Pineapple Express to get hurt. "No no no no no, here's what would be fuckin' incredible...Franco's character gets stabbed in the shoulder with a fork by Dale's high school-aged girlfriend while her father fires off rounds from his shotgun at them in their kitchen. It'll be hilarious!" This film, while it kept me entertained, was nothing more than cartoon violence of the most unexpected, ridiculous brand with a fairly weak story without much character development...oh, and a total stoner movie.

I saw this film in the Silver Lake district, and needless to say waited in line behind about fifty other twenty-something kids who were noticeably feelin' good. The girl next to me in the theater was munching on what smelled like pepperoncinis, the girl to the right of my friends brought her god damn cuddle toy in with her (read: Purse Dog) that began drinking water from a cup very audibly about half way through the film, and the person in front of me was sporting a Jew fro to rival Rogan's that nearly blocked parts of the screen. Having said that, I'm glad I saw it in such a packed house with such a good group of people; the audience was very receptive in general, laughing when it was appropriate, not yammering away as if they were at home on their sofas, gasping when necessary, and gasping at the more gruesome (yet still somehow comical) moments. And trust me, there was much gasping to be had.

The audience loudly cringed or drew in breath each time someone was thrown into a wall, severely beat to all hell, or had their groin stomped on. Someone gets stabbed in the shoulder with a knife (because the fork wasn't enough) and another person's foot goes through the windshield as they're driving. A character is offed by getting smashed with a tiny yellow car. Seth Rogan's character Dale gets the top part of his ear shot off, Red (Danny R. McBride, the other guy on the movie poster) is shot multiple times yet never dies, the cop Carol (Rosie Perez) gets kicked around in the dirt, and black-suited, machine-gun-clad, ninja-esque "Asians" play shoot-em-up with the drug dealers and their thugs. The fight scene between Rogan and suburban drug lord Ted Jones (Gary Cole, also known as modern-day Mike Brady) is so ridiculous, extended and full of impossibility; yet somehow, all of these insane stunts made me laugh, mostly I think due to many "did they really just go there?" moments.

This film is lacking the Apatow touch, however, in that while these characters are mostly likeable (James Franco plays the mellow, pajama pants-wearing small time pot dealer Saul who I wouldn't mind hanging out with, if only for the comedic value), the characters really have no redeeming qualities. Dale is a 25-year-old with a dead-end job who basically lives out of his car (we never see his apartment, although they alude to the fact that he has one) and is dating a high school girl with a horribly foul mouth, Saul is, well, a pot dealer who spends most of his waking hours on his couch dreaming of being a civil engineer, and Red is an obscure, thirty-something small-time dealer much like Saul who walks around in either a kimono or a neck brace for the entire film. These guys are losers, basically uneducated, with no direction in life but getting stoned all day long. And while Apatow meerly produced this film, it seems that he normally attaches his name to comedic projects with good character development. Not so with this one.

The last scene is an attempt at redemption, where they all sit around after witnessing and participating in a masacre and jack each other and the audience off about what good friends they've all become, wasn't that fun!, etc. There is no moment, like there is in Superbad, 40 Year Old Virgin, or Knocked Up when one actually sees that these people are human with actual emotions. Dale messes with his young girlfriend's mind, and while Saul does deeply care about his grandmother, you never see the two of them share a moment; it's more a relationship thrown in for Saul to talk about and get a laugh for its pathetic nature. All in all, this film is about entertainment, and to that effect it certainly hit a good note with me.

1 comment:

ddmarie said...

oh the woodge! my theater had stones behind me that were way too loud unfortunately. have you seen the daily show with seth rogen? hes 26...and looks at least 30. i like how in PE the girlfriend is kinda never really mentioned after a certain point. so sergio pointed out how in the big fight scene, its kinda like a video game, since they keep finding loaded guns along the way, which i thought was kinda rad in a ridiculous way.