Thursday, August 14, 2008

Review: Pineapple Express


Did Judd Apatow & Friends invent the Bromance, or just bring about it’s glorious Renaissance? I’d opt for the latter, but what a Renaissance it is. With a string of commercial and critical hits under their belts, the newest vehicle Pineapple Express is a more raucous take on this cinematic family’s brand of golden hearted vulgarity.

Former Freaks & Geeks cast-mates Seth Rogan (who also co-wrote the film with fellow ‘Superbad’ collaborator Evan Goldberg) and James Franco reunite in a haze of pot smoke to play a pair of fully baked stoners. When process server Dale (Rogan) witnesses a homicide, he seeks out assistance in the form of his gleefully out-of-it dealer Saul. What follows is a madcap, genre shuffling gore-fest as the two bumble from scene to scene, inadvertently falling into a dangerous underground war between the local drug lords.

For the most part, Pineapple Express manages to maintain its hilarity and upbeat pace with the help of the same off-topic banter and reluctantly lovable characters that made Superbad resonate. While the violence leans towards pure brutality at points, pushing the film more towards becoming a bad, jumbled, trip, the characters at the films core are endearingly comic screw-ups. Rogan & Franco have got chemistry. Even as the body count increases and absurdity of the situation becomes painfully obvious, you’re rooting for their bromance (that is, their deep sense of male companionship) to work out.

On the downside, however, those who find the Apatow brand of comedy to be a raunchy cultural acceptance of an ever-growing Peter Pan complex will find much to criticize here. There’s an irreverent take on responsibility (duh, it’s a stoner comedy) now not merely combined with over-the-top remarks on anatomy, but also an insatiable bloodlust. Combine the two together and you’re sure to leave a bad taste in many a viewer’s mouths. Personally, this reviewer can’t imagine why certain types would even be attracted to this film in the first place. This is a film for a target age bracket and a target market, and if you aren’t sure whether or not you’re amongst them…you probably aren’t.

Overall, Pineapple Express is a successful endeavor. The genre-splicing is sloppy, but works well if taken in context with the film’s overarching drug-fueled idiocy. Rogan & Franco are pretty damn fabulous to watch together, even if many of the supporting cast (I’m looking at you, Gary Cole and Rosie Perez) are entirely forgettable.

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