I think I may have finally grown up, that's a worrying thought, but there would have been a time when I would have thought "Pineapple Express" was the dog's doo daa's, that it was dope and basically a riot of comedy. Now I watch it and I'm left numb by the intentionally idiotic storyline, frequent stoner gags combined with the classic buddy set up. Which makes me wonder if to really enjoy "Pineapple Express" you need to be stoned in the first place. Okay, to give it the credit it's due, there are some clever and funny moments which do make you laugh even if you're not semi high and James Franco and Seth Rogen make an amusing double act.
Whilst process server Dale Denton (Seth Rogen - Knocked Up) enjoys his job, and has a high school girlfriend, he also enjoys smoking pot, copious amounts of the stuff all through the day. After a visit to his drug dealer Saul (James Franco - Spider-Man 3), he scores some of Saul's finest, a new variety of drugs called Pineapple Express. Except whilst about to serve papers on someone called Ted Jones (Gary Cole) he witnesses a murder and drops his roach as he rushes away. That roach is what leads a drug dealing kingpin and a corrupt cop to not just Dale but Saul causing them to go on the run in fear of their lives.
It has to be said that ignoring all the stoner, drug elements for a moment "Pineapple Express" is just another buddy story. As such it runs to a very straight forward formula with main focus Dale Denton finding himself in trouble whilst doing his job. He pulls along Saul Silver and then it becomes a series of them trying to escape danger and death before deciding they can't keep running so take on the bad guys. There is no twist on the storyline, nothing new to make it feel any different to the bag full of other buddy movies which have come before and no doubt will follow. But then you get a strong sense that the storyline whilst sort of solid was never that crucial, as "Pineapple Express" is a stoner comedy through and through, but the solid storyline which mixes action with comedy works better than most as a basis for a series of jokes.
As you would expect being a stoner movie that a hell of a lot of the jokes revolve around drug taking, high class drugs, stoned antics and so on. It's all intentionally daft almost bordering on the cliche as Dale and Saul work there way through more spliffs than I've ever seen in a movie. But at the same time it's imaginative, the spliff of all spliffs whilst daft as hell is such a well worked scene full of witty dude style dialogue that you can't but help smile.
And aside from the numerous drug inspired gags you also get the comedy of two stoners trying not to get caught. Again a lot of the comedy is obvious, variations on gags seen in other movies but then it has those imaginative moments. A scene where Saul is trying to cut his bound hands on Dale's belt buckle borders on the crude, intentionally so, but it's a riot. And it's those sort of unexpected moments of daftness which makes "Pineapple Express" rise above being just another dull stoner comedy.
Plus of course two guys on a run means their will be moments of action, usually with a comical twist and I have to repeat myself again as whilst the action is stereotypical there are moments of comical stupidity which make them more fun than you would expect. A fight scene which escalates from punches through to the use of fire extinguishers and then on to strip lighting is one of those utterly stupid but entertaining moments as is a very brief but comical car chase scene.
What is also surprisingly good is the pairing of Seth Rogen and James Franco. Now Seth Rogan is a brilliant comic talent, natural, adlibbing his way through scenes with rambling speeches that could never have been scripted. But it is James Franco which is the revelation as his performance as stoner drug dealer Saul is priceless. Yes it's over the top, intentionally so, but his whole drug induced scattiness is pure comedy. And together Rogen and Franco work brilliantly together, seeming to be having as much fun making "Pineapple Express" as their characters end up having as they smoke copious amounts of dope.
Rogen and Franco aren't the only stars and whilst I found Danny McBride more annoying than funny as Red the pairing of Gary Cole and Rosie Perez is just brilliant. There are some great moments of comical banter between the two usually ending with something completely unexpected but funny.
But the thing is whilst there is much to be praised about "Pineapple Express" and for a stoner movie it is more solid and funnier than most, a lot of the humour fails to work. It at times feels like a case of throw as much humour at it as possible and see what sticks and that unfortunately means for all the really funny scenes and witty dialogue there are plenty which don't work. As such I get a feeling that if you watched "Pineapple Express" with a spliff on the go many of those lesser funny moments would work but watching it with a clear head the weaknesses stick out.
What this all boils down to is that "Pineapple Express" is a good comedy, which unlike many stoner movies has a surprisingly solid storyline for all the drug focused scenes and comedy. But whilst it is entertaining and the partnership of Seth Rogen and James Franco is perfect it does suffer from too many jokes failing to really work. Instead there are some really good scenes with great gags and witty dialogue but then there are more which end up being too stupid and unfunny.