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‘Pineapple Express’ Crude, Seems Rushed

August 6, 2008

By Jeff Vice Deseret News

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS — ** 1/2 — Seth Rogen, James Franco; rated R (violence, drugs, profanity, gore, vulgarity, torture, slurs); Century Sandy and South Salt Lake; Cinemark Jordan Landing; Megaplex District, Gateway and Jordan Commons.

If another, earlier stoner-culture comedy hadn’t beaten it to the punch, “Pineapple Express” could have easily — and perhaps more accurately — been titled “Half Baked.”

The film tries to fuse elements from the “Harold & Kumar” druggie comedies onto the violent buddy comedy-thriller “Hot Fuzz.” But it seems like the project was rushed into production before the script was even finished.

To be fair, when the movie is funny, it’s very funny. That is, if you have a high tolerance for drug humor, crude sexual humor and such. If you’ve seen any of the Judd Apatow comedy productions, such as “Knocked Up,” you know what to expect.

However, the nearly two-hour-long “Express” is too long — by at least 20 minutes — and the sudden changes in tone (it’s continually changing gears from comedy to action-thriller) are pretty jarring.

Seth Rogen co-wrote the screenplay and stars as Dale Denton, a process server who spends much of his free time smoking pot.

While on a job, Dale witnesses the murder of a drug dealer. Unfortunately, he’s spotted by the criminals (Gary Cole and Rosie Perez), and fearing that he might be next, he goes on the run — with his drug-dealing pal, Saul Silver (James Franco), in tow.

Franco and Rogen appeared together on TV’s “Freaks and Geeks,” and their on-screen partnership works well.

Rogen’s seemingly limited acting range is tested here, though, and there are a couple of go-nowhere subplots that easily could have been pruned.

That includes the bits about Dale’s romance with a high school student (Amber Heard). They’re unfunny and seem in questionable taste. Even in this movie.

“Pineapple Express” is rated R for strong scenes of violent action (shootings, brawling and fisticuffs, vehicular and explosive mayhem, and violence against women), pervasive drug content (marijuana use and references), strong sexual language (profanity, crude references and other suggestive talk), some surprisingly graphic gore and blood, a vomiting gag, a scene of torture and interrogation and derogatory slurs (some based on sexual preference). Running time: 110 minutes.

E-mail: jeff@desnews.com

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