Tuesday, December 02, 2008

PINEAPPLE EXPRESS: MOVIE REVIEW


Cast: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny R. McBride
Director: David Gordon Greene
Runtime: 112 min.
Rating: ****1/2
Genre: Action, Comedy

        It is a secret fantasy every guy shares for every minute of his life. That is to be arrested in development. Frozen in time, so to speak. Be a kid, have fun, frolic around, and be in the company of your best friend. As we grow that part of us never dies, but only gets locked, only to be visited every once in a while. We don’t want to be mature and grown up, and we don’t want to acknowledge our adulthood. Remember that moment when we shook hands and declared we would be best friends forever, no matter what. On the outside we might pretend to shrug it off as kid stuff, but that is what we secretly desire. To sit with friends and talk about girls, movies and everything that could be passed off as fodder. And then when we’re bored, we better get some action. As in, kicking balls and running the night. And when it is morning, we grab some tea, eat some breakfast, and we doze off. All ready for the next day…er…night.
        If you understand this much, you might stand a better chance to love Pineapple Express, which in the best traditions of buddy movies is at once a regular riot and instantly lovable inspite of the fact that it has dope, guns, blood and exploded limbs. Come to think of it, much of the fun is because of them, because someone knows how to make a cool movie around them. Remember Pulp Fiction? Now cross it with Midnight Run. Get the picture?
        Dale Denton is a servinator. You might argue that is not even a word, and I would say I made that up because what Denton does doesn’t even sound like a real job. He works for a company that is hired by lawyers to ensure the receipt of legal documents and subpoenas to people who’re avoiding them. So what he does involves disguise so that he makes it to the concerned person. Denton claims it is nothing exceptional and fine only on a day-to-day basis. But of course, he doesn’t seem like a guy who is too concerned with his career as long as he is having the green laid on his hands. I kinda seem to understand him. He has dreams of having his own show on the radio, and as he drives his cars from stop to stop, he does drop in his comments on various shows. And of course, he smokes weed. Big time.
        And there’s Saul Silver (Franco), his drug peddler. Who sits alone in his room and sells weed. Denton has a natural aversion for Saul not because of what sort of a person he is, but what he does. Kinda like a blanket verdict. Otherwise, Saul is the most charming self-satisfied doofus you would ever come across. Denton visits him, and besides taking his usual dosage of supplies, he comes across two of the most advanced developments in dope. So revolutionary it requires Saul to come up with the dopest of ways to describe them. One, a cross-joint, a cross-shaped smoking contraption which according to Saul is the apex of the vortex of joint-engineering. And the other is the brand new dope in town, Pineapple Express, which again in Saul’s words is like God’s v…, ah never mind. Yeah, it is flabbergasting, but then Saul is essentially floating, as light as a feather.
        Now what they get into together is not my business to tell, and certainly your business to learn. All I would say is it involves a whole lot of action, gangsters, cops, car chases, outrageously hilarious situations, ha-ha-funny dialog, and tender moments clashing into each other. If you know the movies from the Apatow factory, you’ll understand. Remember Seth and Evan from last year’s super-funny Superbad? Think of them as grown-ups, and I mean only in age. You would agree we never really grow up, do we? The movie they would want to make and the movie they would want to be in would look a lot like Pineapple Express. Hell, even without dope, the kinda movie I would want to make might look an awful lot similar too. And yeah, don’t forget to throw in McLovin, the guy who’s absolutely imperative to any all-guy hang out. You see, there needs to be somebody we can make fun at the expense of. He’s the guy who gets the ball rolling, before it explodes into an all out blast. You’ll understand every word of what I’m blabbering when you watch the film, believe me. It is funny, it is smart, it has a heart, it is honest with not even a millimeter of a cynical bone, and it is damn entertaining. Hell, if you love buddy films even half as much as I do, and if you understand what makes them work, you’ll know what I’m saying, and you know what’s in store.
        And if you still don’t, watch it for James Franco, whose dopey Saul is one of this year’s best performances. That he is funny is a given. What he lends Saul is the sense of a person, elevating him from a set of characteristics aimed to be funny. In a way, the best of the Apatow films (Anchorman, The 40-Year Old Virgin, Superbad) all have that feel of warmth to them. They seem to be, by definition, cute and charming with a sense of insight, and sweet and lovable characters. Often, even the bad guys. As Roger Ebert says, in his review of The 40-Year Old Virgin, these movies don’t play for cheap laughs. They have gentle fun with their characters mostly looking for humanity. Most comedies end up being cruel because they don’t know better. Not these. There’s Seth Rogen who has an incredible sense of comic timing. In fact, the whole cast. The whole movie in fact, and every part of it. Remember that movie which was so endearing that it made you smile and laugh at everything it did, even the ridiculously outrageous? This one is another. Hang out with it.

2 comments:

Sadanand Renapurkar said...

There's particular Seth Rogen style, he'll start speaking before the other another person stops, sometimes even nonsensical. It's great. PE is a fine comedy. In the list of Apatow movies also his productions are equally great. He has established this brand Apatow now (Forgetting Sarah Marshall is just brilliant so is Superbad.) I didn't quite think of Franco's character much highly, he was fine though. His junkie is perfectly believable.

Amit Bhatia said...

I think I’m going to remember the fight scene @ Red’s place for a long time to come :D

And seriously, James Franco was a revelation here. Since Spiderman, I’d sort of come to expect less of him.

And ‘aerodynamic’ Red! LOL. I run out of words to describe that sequence.

Amit Bhatia