6 August 2008 | ametaphysicalshark
Vibrant, hilarious mesh of genres, and a different sort of film for David Gordon Green
There will be many who will dismiss "Pineapple Express" as immature, overly silly, disjointed, and scatter-shot. There will be others who recognize it as a bizarrely artful, playful, loose genre-bending comedy with some outstanding performances, an inspired comedy script, and some great work from director David Gordon Green, certainly one of the finest young directors around.
The latter group is correct. "Pineapple Express" is, as a whole, the best movie the Apatow clan has produced yet. David Gordon Green is unquestionably the best director to direct one of these movies, but this is also a very different sort of movie than the films he usually directs. Does he rise to the challenge? He certainly does. I never would have believed that he was capable of directing such exciting and fun action scenes, or keep the movie's tone steady despite the different elements it consists of being so wildly disparate, but somehow he pulls it off. No other stoner movie can claim to be as artful and well-directed as this film.
Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg's much-anticipated follow-up to "Superbad" is an excellent screenplay, but expect none of the realism and resonance of that film; "Pineapple Express" is all about the laughs, and the laughs are certainly here, and they are practically non-stop, with just about every scene featuring some great dialogue, acting, or the sort of incredible sight gag this movie does so well. This is just great comedy throughout.
In addition to David Gordon Green's excellent work as director, the film is technically superb. The soundtrack and use of music is brilliant, and frequent Gordon Green collaborator Tim Orr's cinematography is consistently great.
"Pineapple Express" will be an inherently divisive film. It didn't get the sort of critical accolades many previous Apatow clan movies did, and I expect audiences will also be a little less unanimous. Indeed, there's little of the critic-pleasing dramatic scenes Apatow's comedies have been praised for, and even when they do pop up they're usually deflated instantly with a joke, and credit has to go to director David Gordon Green for his expert handling of the film's tone, which never becomes schmaltzy, thank the heavens. Really, the whole film is throughly enjoyable except for the very last scene in the film, which contains one of the film's best jokes, but is really hard to buy given the state the characters are in, and also more than a little forced. Aside from that moment the whole thing works beautifully, quite astounding given the mesh of many different genres and sorts of comedy that this is. You either go with this movies sense of humor or you don't, and I imagine more people will enjoy the first three quarters of the movie, before the big, long action scene happens, and lots and lots of violence occurs. I guess you have to have a somewhat morbid sense of humor to laugh at ALL of the jokes in the film, but so what? There are also some nice little tongue-in-cheek references to the film's influences ("they messed with the wrong melon farmers").
The cast really give it their all. It was great to see James Franco back in a comedic role, and his performance steals the show. Rogen is good as usual, Gary Cole is a perfect villain, and it's nice to see the gorgeous and talented Amber Heard finally make a quality film (and get one of the film's funniest scenes as her character's final scene). The supporting cast are also all good in their roles.
There are a lot of reasons why "Pineapple Express" won't work for many people, and they will probably end up being the very reasons the film works for those who like it. The film's plot is inherently silly to an extent (although this is nowhere near the "Anchorman" style of comedy), and one must be prepared for an outright comedy and not something in the vein of "Knocked Up". "Pineapple Express" may end up being more enjoyable for stoners and those with friends who are stoners, but it works on its own as great comedy because the humor has much more range and scope than just marijuana. One of the best comedies in years.