Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Pineapple Express: The Citizen Kane of stoner comedies?

Marijuana: "The dried leaves and flowering tops of the pistillate hemp plant that yield THC and are smoked in cigarettes for their intoxicating effect." (Merriam Webster)

Pineapple Express: "Probably the best and funniest shit ever committed on film by humanity since the dawn of history." (Urban Dictionary)

Now, you're probably wondering, "Why the fuck did Nello just make me read two definitions about two very different things?" Well, as you can tell, the first definition is that of marijuana. Or as some other people (assholes) call it, Satan's plant. Now if any of you readers have ever inhaled or eaten marijuana then you know that it makes most things a helluva lot better. The three m's I call 'em. Movies, munchies and masturbation. Marijuana induces the awesome-ness levels of each. Movies are funnier, munchies taste better and masturbation feels better. Now then, to the second definition. Pineapple Express, the supposed Citizen Kane of stoner films. While Citizen Kane isn't exactly my number one film of all time, that still means a lot when someone says something like that. The Dark Knight was called The Godfather of comic book films, and it was. So, when a film gets a label now, my expectations are risen to how praiseful the label is.
To stray off topic for a moment, I had a very shitty job. A dishwasher at P.F. Chang's China Bistro. Making $8 an hour and getting treated like piss by most co-workers wasn't the most extravagent way to be making money. The only pro about the job is that it is about a two minute walk from the new movie theatre that opened in April. The Harkins Norterra, a beautiful theatre. Since I was working during summer, I'd usually head on down to the midnight screenings at Norterra right after work. So when I heard that Pineapple Express was having its own, I immediately asked the one co-worker I suspected of smoking marijuana. I asked, "Hey there man, so uh, you know that movie Pineapple Express?" He replied, "Of course man, I can't wait for that shit, I'm gonna see it sooooo blazed."
I was in. I asked him to hang out with my friends and I right after work so that we could all blaze together and see the film right after.
When the night was actually upon us, we blazed (some very nice weed), clam baked his Volkswagen in two rips and then went to the movie. Now when I first went in, they weren't asking for ID's but instead asking math questions about what year we were born. This was crude, considering every person there was high. When it was my turn to answer I immediately stated, "1987 man!" Then I thought, "Oh shit, that makes 31 years old!" However, I was high. I was only "21." The man let me in and the entire line behind me started using 1987 as their key to El Dorado (Pineapple Express).
When the lights went down, the chuckles started. People were laughing at everything, this what I call the 'high tide'. Even at Samuel L. Jackson's new intense racial drama, Lakeview Terrace, people were laughing their asses off. Everytime Samuel L. Jackson appeared on screen people would laugh hysterically, including myself. Then the big show started, Pineapple fucking Express. From the very get go it was giggles galore until about thirty minutes in. That's when the crowd started getting hungry and tired. Note we were all very high, so of course those two traits started becoming more and more apparent. I suddenly realized, "I don't want to watch a movie. I want to smoke and eat more. Fuck."
The giggles galore then went into the chuckle cycle into the occasional 'lol'. This was the 'low tide', or the 'sober session'. The movie then ended and most people were leaving tired, hungry and unsatisfied. I gave the film an above average 7.0/10.0. Nothing special really, since people were calling it the Citizen Kane of stoner films. The next day I decided to blame the rating on the high, which was actually correct. I saw the film Saturday night at 7:30 with no exhaustion, no munchies and no marijuana in me. Now, here is my sobered up review of David Gordon Green's Pineapple Express: When one brings up the topic of why marijuana should be legal, many people will immediately jump in as if it was the last safe boat on the Titanic. Everyone will give their reasons, it makes you paranoid, it's not bad for you, it makes your reaction time slower, it eases pain, etc. There are pros and cons to it, just like everything else. When a film exploits it though, it's fine. People don't mind, because it's all in good taste. What Pineapple Express secretly does though is show all the symptoms of marijuana be put to good use. While this flies under the radar to most, this loyal stoner caught it.
The story follows Dale Denton (Seth Rogen, who also co-wrote with Superbad scribe Evan Goldberg) a process servant with no real future in front of him. He smokes joints throughout the day as he works, flirts with his high school girlfriend (Amber Heard) and buys more pot from his dealer, Saul Silver (James Franco in his best role to date). The story is pretty basic until Saul whips out a bag of the greenest weed man has ever seen. Dale is amazed by the bold green aura shining off the weed. It's called pineapple express. It's supposedly, "the dopest dope you'll ever smoke." One hit of it, and you're on your ass. So Dale buys a quarter and smokes a joint in front of a big time drug dealer's house, Ted Jones (Gary Cole). There he witnesses Cole and a female cop (Rosie Perez) kill an Asian man. Dale freaks out, ditches the joint, hits their cars while trying to drive away and then finally ditches the scene. This is where events kick off. The two are mezmerized by their paranoia as what they believe is about to be a double homicide, the victims being themselves. With their paranoia grasping their mind in it's hand they leave. Right after, two hitmen show up with guns drawn, Budlofsky (Kevin Corrigan) and Matheson (Craig Robinson). As the film progresses, we are introduced to more characters, including Saul's dealer, Red (Danny McBride in the film's best role).
While Pineapple Express has a premise with the potential to be fantastic and the funniest actors you can get nowadays, it should be great, right? Wrong. The first thiry minutes of the film drag on like a thick roach off of a fat blunt. Nothing exciting or entertaining really happens. Nothing that funny either. It's when Red is introduced the real laughs start coming. McBride displays such raw comedic talent with his blatantly obvious improvised lines that you'll be in tears with every line he says. Once Red leaves, the film doesn't slow down, it just gets better and better.
It progressively makes up for the bland first thirty minutes with shoot-outs and hilarious one liners such as, "Your eyes are as red as the devil's dick." You'll be smiling as the grand finale is blazing across screen. You'll walk out of Pineapple Express with a good feeling, not from the weed, but from the film. The first thirty minutes were a disaster, but the rest of the film had the perfect comedic elements to make up for it. All together, Pineapple Express isn't the Citizen Kane of stoner movies, but instead an easily enjoyable comedy about pot and friendship, and all the fucked up shit that tries to come between the two.
I give Pineapple Express a sobered up, 8/10.

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