Wednesday, 21 January 2009

Pineapple Express

Lowdown: Guys on drugs doing stupid things.
Review:
Pineapple Express is yet another comedy from the people who brought us Superbad. These people seem to be everywhere lately, but to their credit I have to say they seem to be on to something here. At least they have been on to something with Pineapple Express, out of which I didn’t expect much but through which I got many a loud laughing sessions.
As with Superbad, Pineapple Express pits weirdos in the center seat. This time around the weirdos are stoners, notable Seth Rogan (a regular in this group of people’s films) and James Franco (whom I know from the Spirderman series). Rogan is a 25 year old working as a guy who brings court orders to people who don’t want to receive them, which forces him to be quite resourceful. He also has an eighteen year old girlfriend who is still in high school and is likely to leave him in favor of college. Rogan thinks his life is complicated but it gets much more so when, while smoking grass, he witnesses a murder committed by a head honcho drug dealer and the police.
Rogan quickly gets rid of the weed and drives off; a fatal mistake. He was smoking the Pineapple Express weed, the latest and greatest in town, and the drug king murderer quickly identifies it. He knows the sole dealer selling this Pineapple Express (Franco), and so the carnival starts: Rogan and Franco run away but are usually too stoned to for proper decision making to take place, and the villains have their own personal issues.
Altogether, we have ourselves a recipe for a stupid film, don’t we? Well, we do, but it’s also stupidly funny. And in its final act the film also turns from an outright comedy to a more action oriented film, with proper gun fights, killings and all. The fact one of the guys stays alive despite being repeatedly shot is entirely credible, I assure you [not].
The greatest thing about Pineapple Express is that it actively steers away from normal cinematic conventions, where things always happen simply and with tons of glamor, and makes things happen more like they would in real life (although to be fair the film is still parsecs away from reality). There are examples aplenty, like a guy running over a villain with his car and shouting that most famous of punch lines, “You just got killed by a Daewoo Lanos, motherfucker!” I mean, my father drives a Daewoo Lanos, which makes it the last thing I would expect to see in a Hollywood flick.
It’s not just the cars. The fighting is all awkward with moves that don’t go as well as they do in all other films, things not going as smoothly as they do in your average car chase scene, and people get all bruised and dirty when they get hit and/or fall down and/or bump into things. The way they would in real life. And the greatest thing about it is that it works in making the film funny, because you don’t expect things to go the way they do in Pineapple Express – you expect what you normally get in "normal" films.
All this departure from glamorous cinematic conventions serves to emphasize Pineapple Express’ lack of political correctness, which, again, serves to make you laugh even harder when the unexpected politically incorrect takes place. In Pineapple Express, for example, women get beaten up and abused (in their credit the film’s women get what they deserve), and people in general fight dirty; there is no gallantry on display when characters fight for their lives.
Ultimately, I have found it amazing Pineapple Express works so well as a comedy. In my opinion, it comes down to originality derived through it willing to go places the establishment wouldn’t. And as you go to these place you discover there’s no harm in there; I mean, I wouldn’t show Pineapple Express to a ten year old, but I see no problem with sane adults that can tell right from wrong watching it. Once you accept the film’s stance you will probably also accept the film’s plea for legalizing currently illegal small time drugs in order to prevent the huge chunks of society that do use them from messing around with lots of not so nice people.
Best scene: Our two stoned heroes strap a guy to a chair for questioning. Then, to make him speak, they threaten him with a cactus. The great thing about the scene is that the cactus threatening act does not take center stage and does not grab for screen attention; it’s a subtle gesture done in the background, as if cacti are common truth elicitation devices.
Technical assessment: I suppose this one is as ordinary as a Blu-ray can get. In particular, the sound is impressive in its mediocrity: despite sporting a Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, there is almost nothing coming out of anything but the center channel. Talk about a waste of potential!
Overall: A stupid movie, but one that would make you laugh hard none the less. Laugh enough for me to give it 3 out of 5 stars.

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