Review by Jack Foley
PINEAPPLE Express is gleefully described by its creators as the first stoner action comedy but while definitely amusing in places, it falls some way short of being a completely blissful experience.
Rather, it’s a somewhat bloated combination of action flicks such as The Last Boy Scout and True Romance with the doped-up comedy of stoner heroes such as Cheech and Chong.
Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) is a good-hearted process server who has an over-fondness for weed. When he witnesses a brutal murder perpetrated by corrupt cops, he’s forced to go on the run with his supplier Saul (James Franco), due to the fact he unwittingly dropped his rare stash [the pineapple express of the title] at the scene.
Keeping one step ahead of the cops proves harder than it seems, though, when having to contend with their increasing paranoia and a need to protect their friends (including Danny McBride) and Dale’s young girlfriend (Amber Heard).
Incredibly, the director of Pineapple Express, David Gordon Green, has previously made a name for himself with the intelligent indie hits All The Real Girls and Undertow, but here seems to have trouble holding things together given that the script (by Rogen and writing buddy Evan Goldberg, of Knocked Up and Superbad fame) often feels like it’s been written on the back of a reefer, or on the spot while high.
Hence, a lot of the material feels hopelessly self-indulgent and improvised, while the tone veers unevenly between stoner comedy and full-blooded violence.
On the plus side, the strong chemistry that exists between a revelatory James Franco and Rogen does give rise to some easy humour, while one or two set pieces (including a car chase in which Franco gets his foot trapped in a windscreen) are hilarious. But at a little under two hours, the film feels like a very long ride and the misses far outweigh the comedic hits.
The violence, too, may be a little too strong for some tastes even though it’s refreshing to see an action-comedy that doesn’t pull its punches or hide behind CGI or wire work (the actors did as many of their own stunts as humanly possible, which kind of adds to the humour).
Pineapple Express is by no means a bad film and looks certain to transform the career of Franco, but it is something of a disappointment that has to rate as a rare misfire for the previously formidable writing partnership of Rogen and Goldberg.
Running time: 111mins
UK DVD Release: January 12, 2009
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- Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg interview
- James Franco interview
- Danny McBride interview
- Pineapple Express photo gallery
- Read our preview