Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Movie Week - Pineapple Express


Seth Rogen and James Franco.  A decade ago you’d never have guessed that in 2014 those two actors would have one foot firmly planted in pretentious.  I don’t think it’s a scenario that many people would have expected, yet it’s totally true.

Franco’s attempt at achieving polymath status has turned his critics into haters.  I’m fine with dude, because for every book of poetry you get a doc on Saturday Night Live.  He knows how to mix things up. 

Rogen on the other hand, not content to be famous as both a writer and comic actor, has recently ventured into social criticism via twitter.  It’s annoying and shows that he takes himself more seriously than anyone else does. 

Which brings us to Pineapple Express.

Pineapple Express is an attempt at a stoner action comedy, mixing up the stoner comedy and action comedy genres.  And really on paper those two genres should work well together.  Stoner comedies are ostensibly about something illegal and action comedies’ action usually derives from some criminal element. 

But Pineapple Express didn’t work for me.  There’s a genuine chance that I’m over Judd Apatow blindly cosigning on his various protégés projects.  It’s dope how they all came together to make some solid projects, back in the day. 

Freaks and Geeks is a genuine classic.  Undeclared, not so much. 

Maybe it’s the lack of diversity?  Apatow, Rogen and company clearly travel in certain circles that seem devoid of brown people.  If you’re lucky you get a token Black character.  I’m not saying that it’s an issue, but while Kevin Hart was down in the beginning, he had to make his own name for himself. 

Yes Rosie Perez is in Pineapple Express, but is she even playing a character?  I mean she’s playing a crooked cop, and that’s the extent of the character.  I’m happy for Craig Robinson, but I’d be happier if Apatow tried building a vehicle for him. 

Anyway, Pineapple Express is a film that lives or dies by the charisma of the stars.  James Franco’s Saul is a good character.  He’s fun and has a layer of depth.  Seth Rogen’s Dale is Seth Rogen as you’ve seen him in everything he’s ever been in.  He’s one-note and does the exact same thing he does in every movie; he yells.  Danny McBride’s Red has more depth than Dale and he’s a supporting character. 

And don’t even get me started on convoluted drug war between rival criminal organizations.  It’s an attempt to make things bigger and elevate the threat while at the same time resolve the central conflict in the final act. 

I will say that I enjoyed the fight scene in between Red, Dale and Saul.  It was well choreographed and executed.  But beyond that, I don’t really see what the fuss with Pineapple Express was about. 

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