Pineapple Express (2008)
A film from the talents that brought us: “Freaks and Geeks”, “Knocked Up” and “George Washington”, among others, “Pineapple Express” certainly blazes on the big screen. Director, David Gordon Green, known for more serious films like “Snow Angels” and “Undertow”, brings a nice, everyday on the down-low atmosphere to the jocular writing styles of Judd Apatow, Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg. It is simply a few days and nights of adventure among the marijuana smoking sub-culture in a fictional town, Clark County where marijuana smoking has risen to an art form.
Enter Private Miller (played by Bill Hader of Superbad and Knocked Up fame) as the first test subject at an official, underground, US Army Top Secret research program. Cutting to the chase the government is testing the effects of smoking marijuana on army soldiers. Well, a stoned Private Miller is mellowed by the merry-J, but is hostile to authority figures. The presiding general shouts “ILLEGAL,” making marijuana an illegal drug and closes down the research. He was hoping for at least some respect not disrespect for authority.
Dale Denton (Seth Rogan of Knocked Up, 40 Year Old Virgin and Superbad fame), a process server who seems to be consistently getting high throughout his day. Dale tracks down people at work and at play—wherever he can find them to serve them with subpoenas. Dale often has to use disguises to get close enough to his targets to say, “You’ve been served.” It’s mostly a fun job, from Dale’s perspective–especially when Dale is high.
Eventually, Dale runs out of weed and has to buy more from his dealer, Saul Silver (played by James Franco of Spiderman 1, 2 & 3 fame). Earlier I mentioned how marijuana smoking had risen to an art form–an art form applies here particularly when you hear Saul discuss the evolution of marijuana varieties that end up with the latest and greatest version—Pineapple Express. The Pineapple Express (PE) marijuana version is, “the dopest dope I’ve ever smoked. Smellll it. It’s like… God’s vagina,” says Saul. Saul happens to be the only dope dealing source selling Pineapple Express at the moment. This fact plays into a convoluted plot that is almost believable.
“Pineapple Express”, the movie, is about getting high in life with the dopest dope. The Pineapple E is sooooo good it is readily identifiable and is actually what gets this show on the road. While on the job of serving subpoena papers, and getting high in his car, Dale witnesses a murder committed by Gary Cole (of Office Space and A Simple Plan) as Ted Jones—a rising drug lord. And Rosie Perez (of White Men Can’t Jump and Do the Right Thing fame) as Carol—Female Cop and accomplice. Ted and Carol notice they have been caught in the act and chase out after Dale who just gets away. Ted notices the still smoking roach, or doobie (doo-bie, n. slang – marijuana cigarette-American Dictionary) on the street where Dale was parked. Ted picks up the doobie, takes a puff which brings a smile of recognition that he’s smoking his PE. The PE he recently supplied his middle-man called “Red” played by Danny McBride (of Drillbit Taylor and The Heartbreak Kid fame).
The comedic antics between Dale, Saul and Red make Pineapple Express a very funny movie and guarantees repeat business. An arresting and funny part of the movie is watching their knock-down, drag-out fight—ending with Red getting taped to a chair so that he cannot rat-out Dale and Saul to the drug lord Ted. Franco’s Saul character tends to steal every scene he’s in by a presence that exudes happiness, mixed with confusion, on a platform of universal love. Rarely does an actor pull-off being under the influence with a spark of reality as well as Franco’s Saul does. He’s articulate, yet in a fog. He’s insightful, yet shortsighted, but mostly, he’s lovable.
The movie plot takes some detours, for pure entertainment value, showing Dale and Saul selling dope to high school kids; then getting busted; escaping; surviving a get away chase with Saul getting his foot stuck in a cop car windshield. In the midst of this day-in-the-life the drug subculture, Dale decides to keep a dinner date at his girlfriends’ home, meets the parents, and agitates the shotgun totting father. Somehow Dale and Saul end up at the bad guy’s underground hideout where all the marijuana is being grown. Out of no-where the Asian drug lord’s thugs strike as they seek pay-back on Ted and Carol for killing one of their own. The action is classic shoot ‘em up with bullets flying in all directions and bad guys biting the dust everywhere. Red even shows up to try to save the day in his Daewoo car.
The ending won’t be given up here, but it’s non-traditional and worth watching. Pineapple Express is for anyone who loves life and can get behind those who pursue happiness. Laughter is contagious and if you go to see Pineapple Express you will be infected. The cure is to see Pineapple Express again and maybe again—because the dialogue is understated but is glorious in its pure hilarity. It actually makes the movie memorable. See you at the movies.