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In many ways, the 2000’s are a pop culture reflection of the 1980’s. From fashion to finances (- and the lack thereof) and politics, we seem well and truly back in the age of Reagan. We have seen the rebirth of at least one type of comedy associated with the Day-Glo age in the success of teen comedies like Juno, Mean Girls and Napoleon Dynamite amongst others bringing us back to the reign of John Hughes. The Harold and Kumar films signify the resurgence of another brand of humour back on screens, the stoner comedy. From Cheech and Chong onward, the celebration of exactly how many funny situations one can get into – and out of – while toasted on pot has made its own special Hollywood niche. The latest entry into the stoner comedy fray, the Judd Apatow-produced Pineapple Express, is one of the funniest in that long line.

The DL is like so: The underachieving Dale lives a contented life; taking great pride in his job as a process server, spending quality time with his barely-legal girlfriend between classes at her high school, and he certainly sees nothing wrong with lighting up several spliffs a day. Good times. He has a lovely business relationship with his dealer Saul, who himself is okay with his place in the world, selling dope of varying and increasingly potency to support his grandmother and guffawing at reruns of 227. Being the small world that it is, Dale happens to serve a subpoena to Saul’s supplier, Ted, who Dale discovers is a homicidal maniac. Dale knows this because he spies the very indiscreet thug blowing the brains of a competitor all over his picture window.  Having nowhere to turn, Dale hides out at Saul’s. Unfortunately for them both, Dale is tracked by the distinctive aroma of the doobie he dropped at the scene - that blend would be the eponymous Pineapple Express - during his rather unstealthy escape and Ted deploys ruthless assassins to obliterate both Dale and the person who sold him the weed - that would be Saul. This has our potheaded heroes running for their lives trying to figure out how to take down the evil Ted before they get smoked. (- I’m so sorry…)

It’s almost a shame to limit the film by calling it a mere stoner comedy when there’s so much other luv going on. Pineapple Express not only worships at the bong, but also the 80’s action blockbusters like Lethal Weapon and a little something extra: Pineapple Express very well might be the first stoner comedy for the Rainbow Tribe. Writers Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Apatow have created a subversively homoerotic buddy movie and dressed it in marijuana leaves. Clearly, the cannabis adulation is the main focus of the laughs, but from its ruggedly out assassins, the fey yet deadly fellow pusher, Red and his violent jealousy of Saul’s deepening affection toward Dale (- whose own hetero choices are exceedingly questionable), Pineapple Express is the gayest thing that isn’t on Logo. Its genius is presenting the subject to Apatow and Rogen’s built-in teen and young adult straight male audience, who most likely don’t spend a lot of time in Chelsea or West Hollywood, in a positive and hilarious way. Let’s face it; androgynously pretty in long hair as the sweet, goofy, Jeff Spicoli-like Saul, James Franco could easily make any straight guy think twice. Much of the film’s humour is derived from Saul’s burnt out musings and smoke-addled responses to the danger he’s in and Franco’s chemistry (N.P.I.) with his former Freaks and Geeks classmate Seth Rogen is charming and hilarious. Rogen is unexpectedly animated as the unlikely action hero and leads his side-splitting ensemble cast brilliantly. In a nod to his devoted fans, during one scene at Saul’s flat, Rogen shows off a display of reefer dexterity that drew the same loud Oohs of amazement from the males in the crowd as if they were watching a stunt from The Dark Knight. Danny McBride plays Red, Saul’s very odd dealer colleague and friend who takes an instant dislike to Dale which culminates in a knock-down drag-out epic brawl. Red is also clearly part Terminator suffering concussions, bullets, stabbings and all manner of offense without expiring. The Office’s Craig Robinson plays the tough-talking, way-out-of-the-closet hitman who resembles Carl Weathers from Rocky III and shares his fashion sense. The rambunctious, barely controlled chaos permeating this film is a delight, the simultaneous embrace and utter disregard for the sensibilities of Rogen’s fan base, David Gordon Green’s sharp, yet free-form direction, the outrageous, clever slapstick and lightning-quick improv from the talented cast are all brilliant. The movie certainly leaves something in the air - that would be the scent of a sequel.

Pineapple Express riotously celebrates the stoner genre while turning it into something fresh and modern. Its buddy film setup and car chase action sequences unabashedly call back to another decade for film. Heck, it’s even got a theme song by Huey Lewis and the News - my point is made.

Seriously, it’s a lot of fun. Go see.

 

~ Mighty Ganesha

Aug. 4th 2008

 

YAY! The Temple was overjoyed by a visit from the fabulous cast of Pineapple Express. Click here to read about some high times with Seth Rogen, James Franco, Rosie Perez & Danny McBride!

 

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Photos

(Courtesy of  Sony Pictures)