Consistently amusing, intermittently very funny, Pineapple Express marks a change in genre for David Gordon Green and, unlike Snow Angels (2007), does nothing to dispute that he is among the finest young American filmmakers at work today. It is Green’s wry, unsentimental tone that redeems the questionable screenplay by Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, the pair who wrote Greg Mottola’s drearily unfunny 2007 comedy Superbad. Judd Apatow also contributed to the original story of Pineapple Express.
The title refers to a new rare kind of marijuana that perpetually stoned process server Dale (Rogen, unlikeable and inept) left at the scene of a murder he witnesses; the two killers are a corrupt cop (an unexpectedly poker-faced Rosie Perez) and Ted, the man Dale had intended to serve, the drug lord of “El Dorado,” a vast underground field of marijuana, and, unfortunately for Dale, the one from whom his own dealer, Saul (James Franco, likeable and in high gear), had bought the pineapple express. Will Ted hunt down and kill Dale? Fearful, Dale is on the run, and among those whom he has embroiled in his flight are his high schooler girlfriend, Amber, and of course Saul.
There is a fine black-and-white prologue, set in the early twentieth century, where the U.S. military is clandestinely testing the effects of marijuana. Their recommendation that marijuana be declared illegal is based on the contempt for military authority that it fosters. The entire film is refreshingly pro-pot; all the film’s bloody violence and nasty plot testify to the outcome of the illegalization of marijuana.
The film includes one of the funniest car chases I’ve seen. There’s considerable violence, especially when an Asian gang squares off with Ted’s gang, and much of it accounts for a good many sight gags.
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