August 6, 2008

‘Pineapple Express’

By Michael Machosky, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Aug. 6--The stoner flick has been making a comeback lately for some reason -- or just finally got off the couch, which is more likely.

"Pineapple Express" is the rare such film that's moderately entertaining to the non-high population -- and appears to be made by people who were in full possession of all their faculties. That's not saying much, though.

The comic firepower behind this meandering movie is impressive -- from the prolific pens of Judd Apatow, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, to the brilliant young director David Gordon Green ("All the Real Girls"). But that also means it's hard to avoid seeming like less than the sum of its parts.

Dale (Seth Rogen) really likes to smoke marijuana. Like many harmless, otherwise law-abiding Americans, the drug's illegal status occasionally forces Dale into the company of some disreputable characters, like his dealer, Saul (James Franco).

Saul is a slightly paranoid agoraphobic, and pretty much always high. He's a little lonely, too, and really likes Dale. Dale puts up with Saul because he has the best weed, including the ultra-rare "Pineapple Express."

Then one night, while smoking, Dale witnesses a cop kill a man in the presence of the local drug kingpin. He panics and flees, leaving telltale traces of Pineapple Express on the scene.

Soon, the dope smoker's paranoia becomes all too real, as Dale and Saul flee the hitmen sent to take them out.

Rogen, unsurprisingly, doesn't have to try very hard to play a smart, but lazy slacker. Craig Robinson stands out as a surprisingly sensitive hitman, and Danny McBride ("The Foot Fist Way") bolsters his swiftly rising comic credentials as an incredibly inept mid-level dealer.

But despite a surprisingly exciting action-packed finale, the film's buddy-movie camaraderie seems a little forced, and the spaced-out dialogue doesn't deliver as often as it should.

--In wide release


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