A modern take on 80s slacker flicksBy Kim Francis
September 18, 2008
Judd Apatow is one of the most prolific producer/writers in Hollywood. He’s the funnyman
behind recent hits like Step Brothers, Forgetting Sarah Marshall, Knocked Up and Superbad and now his hand has touched the latest Seth Rogen vehicle Pineapple Express.
Perma-stoned court process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen) becomes embroiled in a massive criminal operation when he witnesses a murder involving a corrupt police officer and a powerful drug lord, fuelled by a potent drug called Pineapple Express.
With nowhere to go and drug lord Ted Jones (Gary Cole) hot on his trail, he flees to his small-time dealer Saul Silver’s (James Franco) apartment and together they go on the run.
Cue comedy set pieces that blend over-the-top action with hilarious performances and a funny script.
Pineapple Express is a ‘stoner’ comedy in a similar vein to the Cheech and Chong films that were a cult hit in the 1980s, with echoes of Chevy Chase movies like Foul Play and Fletch.
The film even offers more throwbacks to this era, with its 80s-style sets and props.
Surprisingly violent at times, there are occasions when this film crosses the line into gratuitousness and you find yourself wincing instead of chortling.
The action element means there are times when the comedy is compromised to ratchet up some tension but the balance is predominantly in favour of the comedy and, if you love Apatow’s brand of humour, you’ll find your attention dips only occasionally.
You might also find that some of your laughs are a little forced.
Spider-man’s James Franco, however, is a comic revelation as dopey doped-up dealer Saul, alongside the slightly-camp Danny McBride as equally funny middleman Red.
Pineapple Express is unlikely to appeal if you haven’t liked any of Apatow’s previous films, but if you’re already a fan and you cut your teeth on frat-pack humour, you’ll find plenty to enjoy in this simultaneously retro-style yet very modern slacker action-comedy.