Review for Pineapple Express
I’m on the record when it comes to my disdain for the modern Hollywood comedy. They seem to race to the bottom when it comes to base toilet humour, and the characters seem to be interchangeable from one film to the next. They all seem to be written in the same voice as well, which should come as no surprise, given how US TV comedy is usually written by committee. When you throw everything into the pot, it will taste the same no matter what you intended to make. As you might expect, I don’t buy a lot of modern film comedy, preferring instead to revisit the classics, or partake of other cinematic traditions. It was the controversy that drew me to The Interview when I saw it in a bargain bucket, the tale of a tacky talk show duo snagging an interview with the leader of North Korea, and the mayhem that ensued. To my surprise, I actually laughed at it, despite its many issues. The clichés and predictable plot is there, but I actually enjoyed the comedy featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco; so much so that when I saw another of their comedies, Pineapple Express in the same bargain bucket, I decided to take a chance. No controversy here though... Will it be just as funny?
Dale Denton is a process server. Lawyers hire him to get creative and deliver legal papers to people who would much rather avoid being served. He’s got a girlfriend in high school, which raises eyebrows, and he’s got a serious cannabis habit. To fulfil his everyday needs, he relies on his drug dealer, Saul Silver, and Saul has just come into some serious weed, the exclusive distributor of Pineapple Express.
But Dale has to serve a guy called Ted Jones, and he pulls up outside his house in time to witness a murder, a killing committed by Jones and a woman police officer. In his panic, Dale leaves his joint behind, and Ted recognises the aroma, given that he is Saul’s source for Pineapple Express. Back at Saul’s Dale and Saul put two and two together, and realise that they are in deep trouble. They have to go on the run, from the drug syndicate and the police.
This release comes with the theatrical version (112:00) and the extended version (117:26), and for the purposes of this review I watched the latter.
You get a 2.40:1 widescreen 1080p transfer with Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English, as well as DD 5.1 Surround English Audio Descriptive. Subtitles are available in English and Hindi. The image is clear, sharp and colourful, and there are no visible issues with compression. The audio is fine, nice and immersive when needs to be, but is mostly a dialogue focussed piece, There is a nice choice of eclectic pop music to accompany the film, the sort that will have you seeking out the soundtrack CD, or download. But the volume level on the disc is really quite low.
You get one disc in a BD Amaray, which gets some inner sleeve art. The disc boots to an animated menu, and there is a link to some BD Live content, should the servers still be extant.
This disc is packed with extra features that I have no intention of ever watching... so here’s a list without context. Most of the extras are in SD format.
Audio commentary with filmmakers and cast
Deleted Scenes x3 (3:27)
Extended and Alternate Scenes x8 (21:06)
The Making of Pineapple Express (21:08)
The Action of Pineapple Express (12:19)
Phone Booth x2 (6:25)
Gag Reel (4:55)
Item 9 (4:17)
Saul’s Apartment x4 (13:46)
Raw Footage x4 (32:43)
Begley’s Best (5:43)
Red and Jessica’s Guide to Marriage (4:12)
Injury Report (4:56)
Stuntmaster Ken (3:12)
Rehearsal 3/6/07 – Police Liaison (5:40)
Table Read 3/4/06 x2 (8:36)
Comic-Con Panel (7:33)
Red Band Trailer (2:43)
Failure! The primary function of any comedy is to make one laugh. I didn’t laugh once during Pineapple Express, and it’s for all of those reasons I mentioned in the intro. It’s another terrible modern Hollywood comedy, hitting the lowest common denominator when it comes to humour and its jokes, with painfully tiresome characters, all written in the same ‘voice’ that populates modern Hollywood comedy casts. And I really don’t like the cast. I wound up enjoying The Interview despite Seth Rogen and James Franco. I had no such joy with Pineapple Express, as it’s Seth Rogen and James Franco that are the comedy black hole at the heart of this misadventure, sucking all the wit and humour into an infinite singularity from which it will never emerge.
And yet, I enjoyed Pineapple Express after a fashion. It held my attention for its runtime, and the conclusion of the film was passably satisfying. That’s because Pineapple Express is a comedy action movie, and while the comedy may fall flat, the story and the action is put together with some level of competence. I kept wanting to see what would happen next, and never was I disappointed by how the story developed, nor did I at any point find the proceedings tedious.
The tongue in cheek attitude stays in place for the duration, but even with that approach, the action scenes are choreographed well and have the desired impact on screen. The fight sequences have weight, even with their innate silliness, and the car chases and the gun fights wouldn’t look out of place with a few tweaks in more serious action fare. With Dale and Saul, running for their lives from the evil drug lord and the corrupt police, there’s a pace and tension to the story as they figure out what’s going on, through a haze of cannabis, and decide to fight back. As you might expect, if they do succeed, it’s usually by accident, but the character dynamic of their stoner bromance works well enough.
However it’s still not funny. I was convinced that it’s the stoner comedy genre as a whole that fails, as watching this, I was put in mind of the quintessential stoner duo, Cheech and Chong. Some years back, I was compelled by circumstance to review a couple of their films for the site, and on the back of their reputation, I was eagerly looking forward to the experience, only to be let down by the actual films, which were dull as dishwater, while the humour went straight over my head. They didn’t even have the fallback of decent action. I would have thought that this was a problem with the whole genre, only I was just now reminded of The Big Lebowski, a stoner comedy which is actually hilarious.
Pineapple Express is an action comedy which fails to make me laugh, or even smile. But the action is good enough to just about keep the film interesting. The Blu-ray is as good as you’d hope for, and the film won’t put you to sleep, so that’s something.