Starring: Seth Rogen, James Franco, Danny McBride
Directed by: David Gordon Green (“All the Real Girls”)
Written by: Seth Rogen (“Superbad”) and Evan Goldberg (“Superbad”)
It might not take much to entertain a group of giggly potheads, but when it comes to stoner comedies, the best are the ones that can entertain even the most levelheaded audiences. Although there will always be an infantile “Harold & Kumar” to cancel out more developed efforts like “The Wackness,” the stoner comedies of today seem to be growing back a few more brain cells.
With a perceptive indie director like David Gordon Green (“Undertow”) leading the way in “Pineapple Express,” smokers and non-smokers alike have something to applaud. Not only is this Green’s most accessible film to date, it’s his first shot with an action/comedy hybrid and he makes it his own.
In “Express,” Seth Rogen (“Knocked Up”) plays Dale Denton, a weed-loving process server who witnesses a murder while smoking a doobie outside the home where he is supposed to serve papers. In his frantic state, Dale tosses the joint and screeches off just before the killers, Ted (Gary Cole) and Carol (Rosie Perez), realize that someone has seen them.
Although a bit too coincidental, Ted is able to track down Dale because the roach he throws out his car window is filled with a rare type of marijuana known as Pineapple Express. He knows what it is because he is the drug kingpin who has smuggled it into the city and handed it over to only one supplier, who, in turn, has only one distributor.
The seller is Saul Silver (James Franco), a full-time pot dealer who spends all his time at his apartment watching old TV shows and finding inventive ways to get high (he creates a “cross joint” that must be lit at three separate points for maximum puffage). Dale and Saul’s business relationship is brand new, but Saul quickly befriends him probably because he is the only one that understands his carefree ways.
Dale turns Saul for help when he sees the murder and the duo hightail it out of Saul’s apartment in fear for their lives. From here, “Express” becomes a buddy comedy with a lot more wit and unusual performances, especially from Franco, whose comedic timing is brilliant. As Saul, Franco shows his flexibility as an actor and always keeps that likeable smirk on his face.
As another Judd Apatow production, “Pineapple Express” is a hilarious and, at times, very violent kick in the pants that combines genres just as well as any other comedy this year. Sure, it might be lacking in plot, but it’s never lacking in pot (and that makes the half-baked humor all the more bizarre).